Friday, 3 May 2002

Reckage by Tony Reck, May 3, 2002

Reckage by Tony Reck
Chapel off Chapel until May 3 to 26, 2002
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Playwright, Tony Reck's two short plays are billed under the one title: Reckage. Both deal with the wreckage of a family in the wake of father's violence.

The two are non-linear, non-narrative and abstract in form. The second, The Great Dividehas some interesting elements.

The other, The Tar Machineis less effective and suffers the down side of abstraction - it is incomprehensible for the most part.

The Tar Machine begins with a man (Reck) beating a table with a leather belt. He returns repeatedly to do the same action while, simultaneously, a woman (Kaori Hamamoto) laughs unremittingly.

The text in this play is not dialogue but large slabs of prose. Some refer to a cat, others to a man called Jenkins. Stylised action accompanies the speeches but does not make them any more accessible.

Direction by Beng Ohdoes not assist the text. Actors are overacting and engaging in movement that does not illuminate the meaning.

The Great Divide is a better work with a clearer and more coherent meaning and a more cohesive style. Again, it deals with a violent father. This time it is in the context of a dysfunctional family.

One voice (Bruce Langdon) speaks the entire text on microphone about the family disruption. Meanwhile, the others (Reck, Hamamoto, Chris Schlusser, Christie Nieman) engage in a sort of pantomime parody of a family in disarray.

The boy (Schlusser) opens a can of tomatoes and repeatedly shoves them back into the can. Mother (Hamamoto) chops onions fastidiously then father massacres before beating the son repeatedly.

The repetition and stylisation of Oh's direction works in part but it is too self-consciously abstract. The use of three video monitors, a hand held camera, intrusive soundscape (Christie Nieman )and stark lighting (Matthew Barber) are almost overkill.

The repetition and abstraction do not necessarily create interesting theatre.  These pieces need to be a little less obscure in both writing and direction.

By Kate Herbert

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