Saturday, 5 December 1998

Teatro del Mundo, Dec 5, 1998

(Theatre of the World) by Peter Finlay
 La Mama at the Courthouse until December 19, 1998
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Words cannot do justice to Teatro del Mundo. It is an exquisitely cut gem of small-scale theatre, a splendid theatrical confection created by writer Peter Finlay in collaboration with Mary Sitarenos.

We welcome with open arms these two equally splendid and visionary artists. It is too long since we lost Finlay to Perth. He was a mainstay of alternative theatre as one of the founders of Theatreworks. Sitarenos, who also has an unforgettable theatrical past, has also recently re-appeared both as actor and director in Tess Lyssiotis' Home Trilogy.

Teatro del Mundo was influenced by Finlay's trip to Venzuela in 1992. It is spiced with Hispanic language and characters that spin magical, dream-like stories through poetic language and startling theatrical imagery. It is not only the magic realism of South America that haunts this piece. It also reflects its passionate, sometimes horrific world. "I had learned to feel nothing in a land of everyday terror," says Pedro.

The purity and simplicity of this Theatre of the World and the remarkable, idiosyncratic performances of the two actors make it glitter and resonate. Both have a compelling communication with each other and the audience. Their delightful choices, unpredictable timing and vivid representations of quirky myths constantly surprise us. The performances are well supported by Roger Alsop's sound design, Kari Morseth's costumes and sheaths of rich velvet curtaining.

Pedro, a gauche fisherman, who exists in an earthquake-riddled time and space, meets Capricia, an enigmatic, taunting siren. He dreams a dream in which "a fisherman found a baby floating in an ocean with no fish. The baby was the world..." Out of a wicker basket pops the tiny baby planet and out of his dream world, in which Capricia plays several roles, flood stories.

"God Created Nature", "The Man Who Thought Everybody Had a Gun" and "The Fire-Breathing Dragon" This is a Jungian psycho-emotional landscape in which passion is represented by the tiger and dragon, life by a tiny mewling planet earth, fear and insecurity by an earth tremor.

This is not a linear narrative but multi-layered imagistic theatre with a potent emphasis on the physical and visual elements. It is gloriously, splendidly theatrical and transporting. I beg you to see it.

Kate Herbert

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