Tuesday, 25 May 2004

Ariadne's Thread, May 25, 2004

Ariadne's Thread, An Island Odyssey
by Talya Rubin
Where and When: Theatreworks, 25 May to 6 June, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

In the ancient Greek myth of Ariadne's Thread, a young woman, Ariadne helps her lover, Theseus, to find and kill the monstrous Minotaur inside the labyrinth.

Immediately after he marries her, Theseus abandons her on the island of Naxos. The connection is unclear between Ariadne of the myth and Talya Rubins's autobiographical character, Sally's experience on the isle of Santorini.

The successful elements of this production, directed by Vanessa Chapple,  are Rubin's engaging presence and her well-observed embodiment of her Greek neighbours. She peoples the stage with characters. She capturing two Greek widows who gossip kindly about her as they sweep and hang washing.

She portrays old Spiros, the respected storyteller of the town who tells the tale of Ariadne at an evening feast. There is a young Greek stud and a group of boys diving to retrieve a cross. Strangely, there are no young Greek women.

Two of her most satisfying characters are a chewing, balletic goat that steps delicately over rocky paths and Spiros's pack donkey with his bell around his neck. She creates an hilarious and massive bull who is seduced by a woman and fathers the Minotaur.

He characters are more effective than Rubin's self narration which is often poetic but does not advance our understanding of Sally's inner journey. We know that Sally left her home in Canada to spend a year alone in a cave house on Santorini. We know she had a boyfriend she met in choir at sixteen and that he took advantage of her sexually or perhaps raped her. She tells us she loved too much.

What remains cryptic is which particular grief she suffers that needs healing. Was it rape or abandonment, love or abuse? If the metaphor of Ariadne is central, then she grieves for her abandonment by the one she loved. This reference is never elucidated.

Sally gathers meaning amongst the rocks of this beautiful island and becomes part of its community but we do not know at the end, what lesson Sally has learned. Without her specific loss and how Santorini changed her, we have little sense of the allegory of Ariadne.

Rubin has charm and skill in the depiction of characters. This is an enjoyable solo work

LOOK FOR: Rubin's rendition of the goat when Sally arrives on the island.

By Kate Herbert

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