9:30pm, Sun 12 Mar 2000
Short Review: Bizarre
Robyn Archer is one brave Festival Director. I have been to several shows this Festival where I have seen several people of the “Festival Set” arch their eyebrows at what was taking place before them. This was another eyebrow-raising production, apparently based on the Shakespearean text.
The opening of the first Act, it must be said, was magnificent. The stage curtain, white, starts pulsing. The pulses get larger. The curtains part to show the battering ram creating the pulses. The curtain closes. The pulses fade. The curtains part. There sits Brutus. He inserts an endoscope through his nose, down to his vocal chords. He utters the first lines of the night, his vocal chords projected for all to see. Stunning.
The rest of the play… well… you know what it’s like when you’re watching a Lynch or Greenaway film for the first time, and you’ve no idea what’s going on? Giulio Cesare created a similar feeling in me. Don’t get me wrong, the plot was dead simple – Brutus kills Caesar, then the weapon used in the act returns unto him, with which he suicides. There you go – a one-sentence plot summary. Simple.
Ah, but if only the imagery used in the play were that easy to decipher! Some of the prop devices used to support the actors were truly amazing – a chair walking of its’ own accord, the prevalant use of a fox, a cat (complete with Exorcist-style spinning head) and even a seahorse… what was going on? Act 2 replaced the actors playing Brutus and Cassius with two scrawny women… apparently, their anorexia was meant to represent the need to empty oneself in penance.
I think I’ve used the word “apparently” a few times now – and with good reason. Some of the symbolism seemed… well, tenuous, if you catch my drift. Again, the comparison to Lynch/Greenaway comes to the fore – not only for the far-reaching symbolism, but also for the wonderful aural (I hesitate to say “musical”) score. A lot of the imagery was recurrent between the two acts, also, elaborating on the theme of the returning dagger.
So – did I like it or not? Well, here’s the thing about me – I’m much fonder of a performance that looks average, but adds depth through indecipherable imagery, than of one which looks pretty but is straightforward. It gives something to think about on the way home, no? So I rate this one pretty high.