Tuesday, 27 January 1998

Titanic by Theater Titanick, Jan 27, 1998

Titanic by Theater Titanick
Forecourt Sydney Opera House Jan 20-24
Perth Esplanade Feb 12-19, 1998
Reviewed by Kate Herbert 27 Feb, 1998, Sydney

Apocalyptic events take turns fascinating humanity. The 'now' catastrophe is Titanic which has us in its inevitably watery grasp.

In contrast to the movie, the international prize-winning Theater Titanick from Germany, present Titanic outdoors in its full, elemental glory - with fire and water 'in your face'.
As the company of seven actors plus myriad skilled technicians, construct, launch, celebrate and sink the ship, an audience of 20,000 on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House risk their designer outfits in the face of 30,00 litres of spewing water and pyrotechnics.

Like other European companies such as La Fura dels Baus, this is techno-theatre. However, Titanick uses machines rather than video technology, live musicians instead of recorded sound.

It is raw, immediate, chaotic and phenomenal entertainment that leaves one well and truly gob-smacked by the finale.

The Bouffon clown characters include a chook-like cook, socialite passenger, smug owner, decadent captain, goofy waiter, gauche sailor-boy and a crippled engineer.

They scuttle about like trapped creatures, being hoisted in bathtubs, harnessed to pulleys or enslaved to a giant wheel.

Titanic, in best black clown tradition, is both hilarious and poignant. Without language, it highlights the vanity of the upper class, the relentlessness of nature and the fragility of life.

As the ship sinks, the crippled crewman hopelessly stuffs his crutch into the breached hull.

Meanwhile, above, the passenger, owner and captain feast on roasted pig, tossing morsels of (real) chicken into the ravening crowd. The class system is highlighted. As they bathe in hot tubs on deck, the desperate crew bails water below.

The audience witnesses the mechanics of theatre; the effort of construction and the experience of drowning are palpable.

The peace of the early journey that followed the clamour of construction and the blazing glory of the launch, is shattered by a cataclysmic, fiery flood which leaves the huge space littered with drenched bodies, smashed plates and a flaming tower. The silence after such chaos is deafening.

The location at Point Bennelong, is a natural amphi-theatre set between the sails of the Opera House, which echo the ship, and tall cliffs. It resonates with compelling music: didgeridoo, bass, drums, accordion and french horn, ad is flooded with evocative, dramatic light.

Titanick is based in Munster and Leipzig and has toured Titanic throughout Europe since 1993. One of its founding members. Clair Howells, is Melbourne-born. Perhaps someone with vision will book Titanic or its new production about war, Troja, for the Melbourne Festival.

It's our turn to gape and cheer.

Titanic by Theater Titanick 

By Kate Herbert 27 Feb, 1998

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