Wednesday, 1 December 2004
Descent Five: Mata Galup by Robert Reid, Dec 1, 2004
Descent Five: Mata Galup
by Robert Reid Theatre in Decay
Where and When: Theatreworks, December 1 to 12, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on December 1
The title of Theatre in Decay's new production, Mata Galup, translates from Indonesian to, 'the darkening of the eye'.
It suggests revenge, and makes it an apt epithet for Robert Reid's play depicting a view of the global aftermath of September 11.
The play is part docu-drama and part domestic soap opera. It is the news documentary components that are most successful.
Reid present in radio news style, a series of voice overs with facts from the past three years since September 11.
There are some captivating images in this production, directed by the writer. Members of the large cast o extras appears as a team of scientists, wrestling with an enormous replica of the Doomsday Clock that looks like the face of Big Ben.
They stand silently holding lit candles in a vigil for victims of September and they are a crowd of dancers falling to the floor dead in the Bali bombing. They enter in stark white chemical hazard gear to combat the anthrax scare.
There are some striking puppets including a small figure waking in its bed on the morning of the Twin Towers strike. There is a giant George Bush head spouting garbled rhetoric and giant metallic war birds. A solo martial artist flails a sword in a magnificent dance.
The problem is that most of these images are so fleeting that their dramatic impact is wasted. There is great potential for powerful political commentary using solely the imagery and movement. These images end up being fleeting or superficial and comical.
To give these images more weight and time world provide a more compelling visual story than the shallow domestic drama of Micky (Elliot Summers) and Elishaba (Miranda Nation).
The death of the pair's dysfunctional relationship runs parallel to the global story of terrorism and mounting fear. Micky works away from home on train engines or on oil rigs. Elishaba whines about his absence and works in a café until she falls pregnant.
A micro domestic story could act as counterpoint to the macro political drama but this one does not amplify the global situation in any significant way. The whole play lacks a cohesive through line and a dramatic arc. The dialogue is thin and the acting of the two leads is unimpressive.
Mata Galup is a great idea with some smart images but it lacks a clear vision.
By Kate Herbert