Wednesday, 21 September 2005

Not Dead Yet by Rawcus & Born in a Taxi, Sept 21, 2005

Not Dead Yet  devised by Rawcus and Born in a Taxi
Theatreworks,  until Sept 25, 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sept 21, 2005 at 1pm

A Rawcus show is always a cheering theatrical experience and Not Dead Yet is no exception - despite its theme being death. Rawcus finds a wicked way to investigate humanity in all its pain and humour.

The company of able and disabled actors devised Not Dead Yet in collaboration with Born in a Taxi, a movement improvisation group. The production si directed by Kate Sulan (Rawcus ) and Penny Baron (Born in a Taxi).

The pair of directors skilfully plaits together a series of scenes in movement, music and simple dialogue.

The opening scenes are, indeed, raucous with the volume of the party music about to do some ear damage. As audience enters, the actors are concealed behind a single door where, we assume, a raging party is in progress.

Occasionally, the door opens, a party-goer tumbles out and we see the riotous carousing inside.

Later, we realise that the party is just one imagined view of the afterlife - a big party. Good so far! Other images of death follow of peace, confusion and joy.

We see Ray in his wheelchair ignoring answering machine message of condolence while he is comically almost buried beneath sympathy cards and flowers.

We see a glamorous God's random decisions about our destinies based on a wheel of fortune.

Abstract scenes depict people wandering confused and aimless, meeting friends by surprise, all represented  non-literally through repetitive  movement

Not dead yet is enhanced by evocative, gloomy lighting (Richard Vabre) and by
both a recorded soundscape ( Jethro Woodward0 and marvellous live percussion. Tania Bosak, Daniel Tobias).

The final scene was poignant and compelling. A heart wrenching song plays while four actors sit quietly on the floor. Others deck them in clothing and paraphernalia from an ordinary life: an umbrella, scarf, flowers.

It feels like a tribute to their lives and their passing into the next life, a farewell of sorts.

Not Dead Yet is based on a Chilean notion that members of their community who are disabled are revered as spirit guides of the soul as it goes form this world to the next - whatever it is.

This is a beautiful and moving basis for this entertaining and charming show.

By Kate Herbert

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