The Experiment
Mauricio Carrasco @ Space Theatre
8:30pm, Wed 11 Mar 2015
Let me not mince words: I hated The Experiment. Whatever I write here is going to wind up being way more effort than I think it deserves.
Based on Mark Ravenhill’s monologue, The Experiment intends to ponder the question: can experimentation on a single child be justified if it could potentially save thousands of other lives? And the programme, written by producer/composer David Chisholm, loftily suggests that The Experiment is a technological re-imagining of musical melodrama, and name-drops Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Strauss, and Debussy before lamenting the impact of television. It even references – twice – the Grand Guignol, which sets expectations high.
But not only did this performance fail to meet expectations, it also presented something so obtuse and dense that the provocative source material is hidden from view. As the sole performer onstage, Mauricio Carrasco provides a flat, almost monotonic, monologue that completely fails to challenge, and isn’t helped by the choice of video accompaniment. And as much as I like caustic and aggressive music, Chisholm’s score is an atonal mess; Carrasco, apparently an accomplished guitarist, is given little musicality to work with, and only fragmented concepts of instruments on which to perform: the “guitars” were recognisable only by their strings, held taut in contraptions that could be found in the Tate Modern.
I remember furiously composing the tweet below, and wondered whether I should tone it down somewhat. If anything, I think I did tone it down, because time has not been kind to my memory of The Experiment. It was an over-wrought indulgence to the production team, and a complete waste of my time.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 11, 2015David Chisholm