Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Le Dernier Caravanserail, Part Two Origines et Destines by Theatre du Soleil, Oct 12, 2005

Le Dernier Caravanserail, Part Two Origines et Destines
By Theatre du Soleil
Sydney Festival
Royal Exhibition Building  Wed & Fri, 7.30pm, Sat & Sun, 6pm. Oct 12 to Oct 16, 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Oct 12, 2005

Part Two of Le Dernier Caravanserail, has a different impact from Part One

We witness the uncompassionate treatment of refugees at the hands of the Melbourne Appeals Court. We see a compelling depiction of the Indonesian boat that was turned back by the Australian Navy and rescued by the Norwegian ship, Tampa.

Seeing all this through the eyes of Theatre du Soleil, a multi-racial French theatre company, is enough to fill us with shame and horror at the inhumane treatment by our government and armed forces.

Origines and Destines is a bookend to Part One: The Cruel River. We revisit characters we met in Part One, but see them in snatches of time out of chronological order, some preceding Part One.

This is the play about returning home. Many are deported, some escape only to be recaptured. The passion that drove them from home still connects them to their countries, families and pasts.

One Russian girl succeeds in journeying to England but her sister is returned to her Russian village where she is rejected by her father.

The Iranian political activist returns to Teheran to find her father crippled. We revisit the villains, the criminals and the manipulators who control the refugees' destinies.

The opening scene on the seething southern ocean, is spectacular and terrifying. Like The Cruel River of part One, the ocean takes lives and foils escape plans.

The same theatrical devices explore and explode the stories of more of this floating population of refugees.

Actors move on wheeled platforms as if disembodied. They run across the huge expanse of the stage, intensifying the urgency of these stories. Scenes take place in mobile caravans and huts, highlighting the temporary nature of these lives. The music and sound is rich, eclectic and the lighting evocative.

What is paramount is the desperation of real people and actual lives we view in these two productions. Theatre can shed light on the plight of these people but only government can change the rules.

By Kate Herbert

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