Thursday, 13 March 2008

Moving Target, March 13, 2008

 Moving Target
by Marius von Mayenburg, Malthouse Theatre

Beckett Theatre,  March 13 to 29, 2008

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Moving Target, by Marius von Mayenburg, is funny and chaotic at the beginning but disturbing and tragic by its end

Two years ago, director Benedict Andrews explored ideas with Mayenburg who then wrote this play about a community of parents who are afraid that their children are dangerous – in fact that they are violent terrorists.

This compelling story is overlaid with the chaos of children’s games. The ensemble  (Julie Forsyth, Robert Menzies, Hamish Michael, Rita Kalnejais, Alison Bell, Matthew Whittet) spends an inordinate amount of time playing wild, often hilarious games of Hide and Seek. Repeatedly one of them counts to a hundred while five scramble to find the perfect hiding place. They secrete themselves under the couch or the table, inside a sleeping bag or cushion covers, until their choices become absurd, insane or simply childlike.

The game distracts the adults from the terror they feel when they look at the poor little girl who is under suspicion. Slowly their panic rises as they attempt to avoid detection by the ever-present “Advice Centre”. Did the child really hide a green parcel in a street bin? Is it a bomb? Should they report it, or ignore it and hope it goes away?

The group of playfellows inhabit a scruffy white box (Robert Cousins) from which there is no escape. Between games, they reveal snippets of the story about their fear of psychopathic changes in their children. Blaring music and amplified voices echo the escalating chaos. Stark white light becomes more dramatic and vivid with violent, crimson and green (Paul Jackson).

The ensemble is vigorous and unified, shifting from childlike play to distressed and frightened adults. Each actor brings his or her own quirkiness and energy to the story.

The Hide and Seek becomes repetitive and is reminiscent of a drama class and the hands-over-your-ears noise level is intermittently intolerable. But Moving Target investigates contemporary performance with verve and Mayenburg’s script makes interesting statements about societal hysteria and fear.

By Kate Herbert

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