Monday, 17 June 2013

By Their Own Hands, June 16, 2013 **

The Hayloft Project, MTC NEON Festival of Independent Theatre
MTC Lawler Studio, June 13 to 23, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on June 16
This review is not written for, or published in the Herald Sun or any other publication. KH

By Their Own Hands takes a dive off the high board, leaving Sophocles’ tragic play and the Ancient Greek Oedipus myth behind.

The result is the trivialisation of a classic story and a poor deconstruction that results in a shallow piece of theatre that does not challenge the audience or illuminate the narrative and characters.

The piece, devised and performed by Benedict Hardie and Anne-Louise Sarks, is divided into three sections, each of which approaches the myth from a different angle.

In part one, the performers invite the entire audience onto the stage to participate, as the people of Thebes, in their gentle, casual but engaging storytelling, with odd people allocated characters but required to do nothing in the roles.

This part is quietly amusing as the actors directly address the audience and relate, without embellishment or emotion, the tale of Oedipus, the abandoned child of King Laius and Queen Jocasta, who returns to Thebes to unwittingly kill his father and marry his mother.

After this mild beginning in full light, in part two the theatricality kicks in with stark and dramatic lighting and an enormous sheet of plastic covering the floor. What follows is predictably grotesque and bloody – literally.

The pair enact mimetic, excruciatingly laboured, graphic and risible depictions of crucial moments in the story: Laius and Jocasta’s marriage, Jocasta washing her bloody baby, Jocasta’s hanging, Oedipus’s rage and self-blinding.

Any hope that the piece would illuminate the tragedy any further was lost in part three when, standing at microphones, the pair chat aimlessly as Jocasta and Oedipus.

They improvise purile dialogue as if the characters were a contemporary couple – cynical older woman and annoyingly puppyish, younger man – discussing their seduction, relationship, unborn babe and discovered incest.

The piece becomes laughable and is alienating for an audience unfamiliar with the Oedipus myth – people around me were confused saying, “Are they going for comedy here?”

This show is irritatingly thin, and does not serve the ancient tragedy or the audience, who deserve better. Deconstruction can be so much better. 

Yes, it made me angry, and I was not alone in this reaction.

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment