May 2014 | Hong Kong City Hall Theatre
Wait Until Dark is a new Cantonese-language version of the play by Frederick Knott, translated for the casual theatre audience as 《盲女驚魂》 – something like ‘blind woman: scary’. Strangely the author fails to get a mention on their website, unlike Audrey Hepburn. In fact, they seem to be implying that this is an ‘original stage version’ of the film version?
This makes very little difference, as the performance is a dreary attempt at 1960s drawing room realism, whose only claim to ‘originality’ is the change in language. The setting makes no concession to the actors, attempting something enthusiastically London-esque from the 1960s. The set is indeed fantastically detailed, and as an installation piece this would be an impressive work of art, spoiled only by a few key elements obviously impossible to acquire in Hong Kong – most notably a rotary dial telephone and a Western-style sink.
February 2014 | Roundhouse, London
Fuerzabruta! (‘Brute Force’) returns to the Roundhouse as part of its ongoing international tour, demonstrating stunts, grand set pieces and pacey music throughout, in a sequence of dreamscapes. Music is both live and recorded (DJ’ed), switching between carnivalesque drums to an electronica score that supports the atmosphere and action of the piece which cuts through and over the audience.
Aragon excitedly wrote of Robert Wilson’s Deafman Glance as “…it is at once life awake and the life of closed eyes, the confusion between everyday life and the life of each night, reality mingle[d] with dream…” (belatedly arguing against a long-term decision that Theatre cannot be surreal.) Wilson’s production was a series of performed images, deliberately devoid of sound, but one is compelled to wonder what Aragon would have made of Fuerzabruta!, with it’s speed, fast changes of pace, ambitious design and use of technology on a grand scale. The experience, which attempts to tap into the audience’s primitive rhythms through carnival also encourages a more personal reflection;
April 2014 | BAC, London
The Paper Cinema impresses its audiences with quirky illustrations and an original live score in this atmospheric and charming adaptation of the classic story.
Their Odyssey is a great example for the use of projectors and live feed cameras in a theatre, starting with the prologue in which the protagonist is drawn before us. Scenes float across the screen, soft illustrations that are sufficiently expressive yet light-hearted and poetic. As a fan of both silent film and graphic novels, I found this miniature theatre made for great storytelling. Part of the fun is the exposure of the performers constructing the images, using their makeshift props and rotating backdrops; a small arrow flies through the trees and slays a boar, Penelope’s suitors hound her as wolves, encircling her home, a motorbike speeds through the night as part of several montages including extensive travels and changing weather. The animators manage to create life from these static images by carefully manipulating the audience perspective, creating a sense of perpetual movement and rhythm in order to focus attention on particular minute details.