Thursday, 6 June 2002

June… the place does not matter, June 6, 2002

Written by Louise Morris  and Rebecca Rutter
a CIA production  in La Mama carpark, June 6- June, 2002
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

The Bouffon  is a wonderful and strange form of theatre with its roots in Mediaeval France. It is a grotesque form of black clown that is popular with experimental companies here. It is rarely done well.

In June….the place does not matter,  a developmental production, CIA  has a go at the Bouffon. The work is predominantly unsuccessful in this stage of its development.

The concept and location are interesting. The piece is performed in and around a caravan in the carpark in front of La Mama. A family of misfits runs a carpark.  A series of grotesque and deformed characters stumble, crawl and fall into the arena.

The audience huddles around a brazier or wraps itself in blankets.

The idea is a good one and perhaps more work will increase its definition. The twin lesbian characters ( Morris and Anna Voronoff OK) could develop into a grim clown routine.

Another character is crippled with leg braces and a crying baby lies ignored amongst the rubbish.

My favourite was a little terrier whining and confused as actors leap out of the caravan.

The final scene reveals a fine design element when we are herded by a cowboy through the van into the La Mama courtyard.

However, the actors are vocally limited and the troupe that teem out of the van on occasion are awkward. Dialogue is clumsy and sections of poetic text are incomprehensible.

In Bouffon's original form- so goes the unwritten story -  the deformed, inbred children of the French aristocacy lived in the swamps as outcasts until All Souls' Day, when they were permitted to perform in the cathedrals of Paris.

They were happy in their isolated community and lived unhampered by their deformities. This group of disaffected fringe dwellers performed cruel parodies of the ruling class and church.

There is yet to be an appropriately acerbic and relevant version of this for contemporary Australia. An actual disabled or minority group would make a political statement through the form.

 CIA's work does not touch the Bouffon's potential for social parody. It remains a thin satire with no darkness, depth or intensity. Some of the actors have not grasped the style yet.


By Kate Herbert

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