Monday, 1 October 2012
As We Mean To Go On, Sept 30, 2012
Devised by Elbow Room, written by Marcel Dorney
Devisers, Angus Grant, Emily Tomlins, Marcel Dorney; Director-Writer, Marcel Dorney; Producer, Jamie Dawson
Melbourne Fringe Festival
Warehouse, Fringe Hub, Nth Melbourne, Sep 28 to Oct 13, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sept 30
THE ACTORS WORK VERY HARD ON STAGE IN As We Mean To Go On, a play devised by Elbow Room as part one of a trilogy, but the script is so cumbersome, wordy and obscure that the actors’ efforts seems wasted.
Group-devised theatre is often inventive, physical and imagistic rather than verbal, but a word-based text, even when a playwright or dramaturg (Marcel Dorney) refines it, can end up cluttered with unnecessary verbiage.
The first few minutes look promising, with a simple, silent, physical image of a naked couple that we presume to be Adam and Eve, locked in a dramatic embrace, with the woman gripping then biting into an apple..
After that initial, visual impact, the scenes that follow are dense, expository and overwritten, the characters and story unclear, and the theme of origins obscure.
Some visual drama is created by the off stage actors being visible and evocatively lit (Kris Chainey) as they lurk behind the audience.
The publicity states that this play arose from the book of Genesis and deals with, “How origins inform and structure our feelings about the continuity of existence and our place in it,” but it seems more concerned with slavery, ethnicity, fraternal violence and a reductive view of man’s relationship with God.
Marcel Dorney’s direction is too static, with actors most often standing and delivering long, convoluted and earnest dialogue punctuated with occasional physicalisation or incomprehensible, shouted dialogue.
After some initially confusing and obtuse scenes, eventually some characters are named, including Abraham and his son Isaac, Jacob and his brother Esau, and we realise that these stories arise from the Old Testament.
Unfortunately, even with such rich material as biblical tales, the style is relentlessly portentous and this short play becomes unintentionally pretentious.
By Kate Herbert