Thursday, 29 September 2005

The Proscenium by Margaret Cameron, Sept 29, 2005

The Proscenium
Written and performed by Margaret Cameron
Malthouse Theatre
Tower Theatre, Malthouse, Sept 29 to October 9, 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Margaret Cameron's work is based on dream and memory and the concept of a theatrical moment as it is forming in both the mind and space.

In the darkness in a pool of light, lies a large stone shaped like a pumpkin. As we watch it, Cameron's honey-toned, amplified voice drifts over us in waves.

Her language is poetic and her movement minimal. She walks slowly on, stands alone on stage, wearing a raincoat and accompanied only by the stone and talks of her imagined space, her memories of childhood and he possibility of theatre.

The piece is short - only 40 minutes - and feels like a meditation, a stream of consciousness, a poetic investigation of the moment of creation and the collision of thoughts that occurs at that moment.

The theatrical space is a door that swallows space. The theatre stage is somehow a vehicle that allows artificiality and dreaming and legitimises despair.

Memories of a home with an unhappy marriage slide into the fractured meditation. A kitchen table, mother cooking, a feeling of isolation and poverty.

Mother is like ancient Atlas, carrying the entire world of the family on her shoulders.

The voice drifts on like a soothing, yet strangely despairing visual journey.

The child stands in a doorway and watches father being hosed through a window. The memory sees the room raining. We hear the sound of rain gently pattering above us and return in our minds to the room with her.

Some memories are gently comical. The child walks on stage as Fagan in Oliver and wins an award. "It is in the local paper," she smiles - and repeats, quietly proud of her childhood achievement.

The theatrical space is a fluid place. Time means nothing, words can be interpreted, images are reconstructed and then imagined, memory becomes the story. The solid meets the insubstantial.

In Cameron's  pondering the notion of theatre of memory, of perception, of reality and time, we are drawn into her interior world momentarily to consider this moment in the theatre and those moments in the pas; all this at the leisurely pace of dreams.

It  is a fascinating and disconcerting performance.

By Kate Herbert

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