Thursday, 24 October 2002
Genesi - from the Museum of Sleep, Societas Raffaello Sanzio, Oct 24, 2002
Genesi - from the Museum of Sleep by Societas Raffaello Sanzio
at State Theatre October 24 to October 27, 2002
Melbourne International Arts Festival
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
The Genesis, the genetic, the genital: all are elements of Genesi - from the Museum of Sleep. Director, Romeo Castellucci, takes the first book of The old Testament as the seed for this strange product of Italian experimental theatre company, Societas Raffaello Sanzio.
The play is in three parts: the creation of Adam and Eve, Auschwitz and Cain and Abel.
This is not conventional linear narrative theatre. It is more a collage of images, moments, inflections and reflections upon the notion of genesis, humanity and man's foibles and horrors.
Threaded through these loose narrative points are images of and references to Auschwitz, race, science and invention and human vulnerability.
The cavernous State Theatre is draped in curtaining, littered with sand, bodies and anachronistic gadgets. In the Garden of Eden, the contemporary scientific object collides with primitive, naked mankind.
When Cain murders Abel, two live dogs amble aimlessly around them, sniffing the dirt ignoring the violence of the men.
In the background of part one, sheep mate, a primordial crocodile lowers over the scene, a contortionist cracks his bones horribly and a Hebrew ritual establishes the Biblical intent..
Part two has the atmosphere of a child's nursery. Children, some of whom are Castellucci's own, play voicelessly, moving in totally abstract choreography (Claudia Castellucci). Finally, one is slaughtered and the others are gassed in this metaphorical Auschwitz showers.
The lighting is dim and evocative with much back-lighting through scrims, shadow work, stark spotlights.
The soundscape (Chiara Guidi) is at times percussive body thumping rhythm and at others lyrical and haunting.
Says Castellucci, "Divine creation unleashes the problem of possibilities. It creates an open sea of possibilities. That is terrifying."
It is the near chaos of the montage of images and the cacophony of sound that we see and hear that is so compelling and disturbing.
The floor has no solidity as it rolls like waves. Children are murdered. Brother kills brother. Time is non-specific. Meaning is like dust in our hands. We cannot make it solid.
There is little speech. The phys ical and palpable is foremost. Actors appear with different deformities: a withered arm, a breast missing. All are totally rivetting.
To see Genesi is to witness n epic that leaves one with a flood of sensations and despair in many ways. It is also very beautiful.
By Kate Herbert