Saturday, 9 September 2000

Pixels in the Picture by Robert Reid , Sept 9, 2000

Theatre in Decay
at The Storeroom Parkview Hotel until September 16, 2000
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Short plays in novel locations with limited number of audience are the signature for Robert Reid's company, Theatre in Decay.

 In the last few months they have performed in a Backpackers' hotel, in an art gallery and now Pixels in the Picture is set in two small rooms above a pub in Fitzroy.

Reid's writing for this monologue is abstract, edgy, philosophical with witty or poignant observations on the modern world. He draws eclectic themes and images together in a style reminiscent of 20th century European directors such as Grotowski and Artaud.

What is fascinating in the form is that, in the two little rooms, the same monologue is being performed simultaneously by two different actors. (Telia Nevile, Elliot Summers)  Reid allows them different interpretations.

The character is a graffiti artist with a difference. He she was once a pavement chalk artist, hence his/her name, Rembrandt. Now Rembrandt is shut into a room painted white like an asylum cell. In here, he/she obsessively fills the white paper-covered floor with binary code: various combinations of the digits one and zero.

Rembrandt now uses texta, not chalk. "It's more permanent." All Rembrandt's secret revolutionary actions are a wry commentary on the dehumanisation of the modern world and the insanity of quiet rebellion.

Strangely, by the second viewing, the dialogue, although exactly the same, seemed to be different and my hearing was selective. We are compelled to look at the "pixels", the details the second time.

 Summers, in room, one invaded our space. He leaned over audience members eye to eye, nose to nose, ranting about his mental state, telling stories and scrawling numbers.

Nevile's is a more meditative performance, more of a story-telling.
Both are dressed in blue worker's overalls. Both have a minder, a controller in the corner, manipulating the bare white and red light-bulbs, leaving us in darkness for periods of time.

The presentation and form are as important as the content in Pixels. A dice is thrown in the foyer. One lucky audient saw both pieces alone in a room separate to the rest of us.

Pixels is well-performed, intelligently directed intimate theatre.

By Kate Herbert

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