Krapp’s Last Tape | Robert Wilson

June, 2015 | Barbican, London (International Beckett Season)

Avant-garde visionary Robert Wilson is a legend in contemporary theatre with grand-scale shows such as Deafman Glance (which brought about Louis Aragon’s change of heart that theatre could indeed be a medium of surrealist art- having officially rejected Antonin Artaud and other theatrical efforts for many years,) Einstein on the Beach (‘Trial-Prison’ Act III Scene 1 track is not unlike Lucky’s monologue in Waiting for Godot,) The Black Rider, Death Destruction and Detroit– the list goes on. Samuel Beckett once saw him perform and found common ground in a post-show conversation, giving Wilson further consolidation in his particular theatrical outlook. Theatrically, Beckett and Wilson draw many similarities, visually to say the least, and it’s only natural that one would note with quiet satisfaction that each of their own ideas compliments those of the other. Beckett acknowledged Wilson as an actor that truly understands how his work should be played, a useful endorsement for any performer. This makes the show highly anticipated – in fact I bought my ticket 8 months in advance and Krapp’s Last Tape is a rich choice for a theatre creator like Wilson (It helps that Wilson has the clout to get himself scheduled into most performance spaces across the world… example: his last trip to London’s Barbican was part of the Duchamp Season in John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing, his presence described simply as “passing through town” by a techie working on it.*)
(more…)

Waiting For Godot | Sydney Theatre Company

June, 2015 | Barbican, London (International Beckett Season)

Waiting for Godot is a play that’s impossible to label, define or understand and famously (and accurately) described as one in which “nothing happens, twice”* – and it heads the Samuel Beckett Festival at the Barbican. Beckett often spoke out against the need to understand or interpret his work in the face of widespread despair by many a director, actor or critic. I propose that Beckett is more of a performance artist than a playwright in this respect. When you watch these unconventional pieces you are seeing live-art, a happening, staged minimalism, maths, art installation, philosophy, history, a dance; the texts are equal to or more choreographed than spoken. The viewer experiences his work (for wont of a less pretentious line) and often becomes self-conscious and reflective.

(more…)

“Alone” | Hong Kong Repertory Theatre

July 2015 | Hong Kong Repertory Theatre Black Box

I didn’t expect it to be a comedy…

“Alone” is a beautiful production, which magically and organically transformed the HK Rep Black Box Theatre into a… I was about to say “brain,” because of its impressive spectacle, which was also throbbing with freshness and blood. The two actors were enough to occupy the whole stage with their virtuosity and energy, combined with masterful ease. A bare stage, minimal props; but with the wonderfully executed pacing, the one and half hours’ running time seemed to pass without my noticing.
(more…)

Little Shop of Horrors | Live Live Cinema

June, 2015 | Milton Court, London

Theatre/Cinema events are becoming very common now and ranging in style though not often depth. In the last two years alone I’ve seen Cinematic Theatre in the hyper-detailed Shaubühne piece Frauline Julie, Kiss and Cry (a film-and-puppetry drama made with fingers,) Paper Cinema’s Odyssey with live music and drawing with object manipulation, Petruska, a collaboration of American company Giants Are Small and the New York Philharmonic, which had puppeteers moving around with different set-pieces and previous filmed scenes projected with live-feed like a cinema while the Orchestra played along (in both senses; internationally renowned conductor Alan Gilbert was dressed up at Magician, too.) I’ve seen Neil Gaiman reading one of his short stories alongside a quartet and projected illustrations (by Graphic Novel hero Eddy Campbell,) fringe companies recreating entire films in tiny theatres with minimal props, inviting the audience to use their imagination to fill the gaps, The Film Beasts of the Southern Wild with accompanying orchestra. Secret Cinema has evolved from the early ‘promenade cinema’ concept into a full-on immersive experience, not only being a cinema event but also making the audiences experience the events in the film, too (although I have never fancied paying £50 to have underpaid and oft’ exploited actors smile through gimmicky budget-consuming action sequences and excessive sets… it’s not even ‘Secret’ anymore, as they can generate hipster interest by announcing the retro film that’s billed as opposed to the revealing it after audiences go through the whole immersive ordeal. Maybe it has to be experienced to believe, though… I digress…)
(more…)