Wednesday, 22 March 2000

Butcher, March 22, 2000

By Matthew Crosby 
Actors' Furniture Group at Theatreworks until April 1, 2000
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Is it possible that a newborn infant bears the taint of original sin? Ar humans innately evil? Mat Crosby's play, Butcher,  is an abstract study of guilt and innocence, love and death, good and not-so-good.

Actors' Furniture Group works in the style of Tadashi Suzuki, a Japanese director with whom most of the company have studied either here or in Japan.

The method is to make both physical and vocal demands on actors and to focus on the internal "animal energy" rather than the intellectual exterior.

 There is, though, a surprising dichotomy in the play. The text is often confusing and intellectually demanding. There is little action on stage and limited dynamic or emotional range. The animal energy is still trapped in its cage at this stage.

The narrative involves Milos (Dean Linguey), a butcher, and his wife, Maeve (Lynne Santos) who run a butcher's shop during a war, probably somewhere in Europe in World War Two.
Maeve and Milos tilt in and out of vaudevillian comedy.

The story is linear but abstract with interjections from the devil (Glynis Angell)  and a Stage Manager (Ben Rogan). The SM is testing the thesis that humans are innately evil.

Crosby's text is poetic, often rich but also obscure in meaning. He incorporates purposely unfunny jokes. Life is comic-tragic. Music by Robin Cuming is evocative and well placed. The show could benefit from even more. A single song seemed too little.

The sparse set is barely lit. Actors emerge in slow motion from dark recesses of the cavernous space of Theatreworks.or appear in torchlight.

This is a confusing production that could benefit from a hefty edit. It could make a tight one hour play.

by Kate Herbert

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