劇評

《電子城市 director’s cut》| 前進進戲劇工作坊

2015年6月 | 前進進牛棚劇場

當理性和人造秩序凌駕於人的控制能力之上
當聯繫和信息變成一張超越個人承受範圍的粘稠之網
每個個體就坍縮為機械的質點和慾望的黑洞
而定義這種“個體”的邊界線卻已經是整個體系中猙獰的流動


在《電子城市(導演剪輯版)》的癲狂世界裡,這就是當代電子社會的寫照。 Falk Richter 的劇本中堂而皇之地出現了直白的哲學性論述,一耳聽到還以為什麼文藝理論的研討會會走錯了劇組。整個劇用盡力氣——不是心有餘力不足地用盡,而是“殘酷劇場”式的用盡——嘗試激發觀眾的共鳴,並將我們這個電子時代的生活共振的特點提煉並推向極致,就是希望這些看似“掉書袋”看似“想太多”看似“不知所云”的說法終於可以在讀者和觀者面前重新展現出它們與激發它們出現的境況的聯繫。

整個戲的多媒體裝置和效果很酷炫,尤其值得一提的是視頻特效非常精緻;入場之前還被要求關掉手機,因為無線電會影響劇場特效設備運作。佈景設置很巧妙,但仔細一看會發現竟然是基於一個相對傳統的舞台結構。燈光設計大膽地使用了很多藍紫光,加上鎢絲燈3000K左右的色溫在這個對比色的烘託中,產生了極端冷峻詭變成瘋狂畸形的效果。音效和舞台其他部分融為一體,氣氛烘托相當有機,一時令觀眾沉浸其中,一時又好像代表那種電子世界的非人力量需要演員聲嘶力竭去對抗。

這是個對體能和技術要求很高的戲,而演員們將這個任務完成得相當精彩。四位敘述者(梁天尺  周詠恩  陳瑋聰  黃雋謙)是帶領全劇緊湊節奏的功臣,同時也在“沒有角色”和“個體鮮明”之間達到了一個非常流暢的平衡。他們利用打破平衡的一女三男組合本身的特點為敘述的動感錦上添花,而且個人非常喜歡女敘述者僅僅是偶爾利用先天性別和形體差異的方​​式。而一男一女兩個中心角色的演繹(劉俊謙  毛曄穎),將一組統一的矛盾成功帶出並成功賦予張力:這是兩個電子魔都中典型的芸芸眾生,又是鮮活的、原始力量被壓抑的個體。導演陳秉釗選擇讓整個戲都處於一種時不時就高度緊張的幾近崩潰的狀態,對演員的考驗就更大了,然而是一種符合劇本氣質的處理;也許會顯得有幾處懸置與爆發對比的空間相對大的地方不夠有衝擊力,而一些黑色幽默可能會略顯倉促,而已。

劇本的文本部分涉及了許多當下的母題,很值得再讀再琢磨;而作為一個劇呈現在觀眾面前,許多文字之間和之外的內容也被成功地通過舞台其他語言呈現了出來。這不是一個僅僅呈現或再現社會現實的作品,它有它明確的觀點,甚至可以說是倫理上、政治上的觀點,比如提出我們當下的文明秩序是基於理性卻已經超越理性趨近瘋狂,比如認為在這種秩序面前憤怒和慾望作為原始力量又重新統一起來,而兩者實則同根同源、互相攫取,比如影像、述說、向外展現(這些幻覺)變成了個體被確認與自我確認的必要方式。對於它提出的問題和現象,這個故事並沒有提供一個答案或行動方向,而且它誠實地直接硬生生戛然而止,把尋找出路繼續生存的擔子遞了給我們這些已經對無處不在的電子產品的聲響發展出本能反應、神經過敏、出現幻聽的電子城市居民。

《Alone》| 香港話劇團

2015年6月 | 香港話劇團黑盒劇場

筆者並沒有料到這是個喜劇!

硬件都非常驚艷,佈景、燈光、服裝、音響都恰到好處,幾乎不留痕跡地將香港話劇團黑盒劇場變成了一個——我很想說“大腦”,因為奇幻,因為冷峻,因為感到奇幻和冷峻背後的躍動而溫熱血肉。兩個演員演技爆表、撐起全場,沒有多餘的道具,節奏行雲流水,看戲的一個半小時​​從來沒有過得這麼不知不覺。

所有的張力——一種好像打哈欠伸懶腰一樣令人舒暢的張力——都在二元對立中產生:異性戀的男人和女人,粉紫色和暖黃色的光源,白色的舞台和黑色的劇場,佈景的簡略和視覺效果的炫目——一切相剋相生。一開頭就是清晰的兩個個體,緊接著就是針鋒相對又相互激發的對白。故事進行到一半的時候“男人”點穿了兩人在這個真空世界裡存在意義的基礎:沒有你,我也就不是男人,而沒有我,你也就不是女人。 “女人”的扮演者黃呈欣同時作為服裝設計,敏銳地捕捉到了這兩個人物本身存在狀態的悖論:他們是赤裸的,完全沒有身份信息;他們具有最基本的人類社會性,包括異性戀個體的慾望,以及自主意識產生的基礎及其副產品例如性格和自我實現的渴望。所以他們身著肉粉色,男人全套西裝,女人一襲長裙,在燈光效果下與身體幾乎融為一體,而又隱隱泛光。

劇情幾乎完全靠人物性格推動——這兩個人物剩下的只有“性格”了;連道具看似突然的轉變也是因為人物出於自身性格做出的選擇——這種跳躍和不可控除了是喜劇效果的來源之外,也被編劇/“男人”扮演者邱廷輝用來影射創世者或高於人類個體的所謂命運的力量,而這也似乎是人物性格以外的情節大背景。有趣的不見得是隨著劇情發展,兩個人物嘗試挑戰這種力量並成功通過施展主體性——​​選擇——而“偶遇”出不同的結果;而是這股力量臨近尾聲的時候被內化,即兩人竟然似乎可能大概“製造”出了屬於自己的理想世界,卻旋即回到了最初的對立。男人和女人也許始終都在這個圓形的“窿”裡,無法脫身。我們作為愚蠢的人類,這個幾乎是認知機能中先天的困境,竟然被編劇以如此流暢輕快的方式呈現了出來。在此不得不提的是兩個演員嘆為觀止的舞台掌控能力和默契——我不大懂得評價演技的詞彙,但是我在此能說的是,除了討巧的人物性格設計,我完全被他們的演繹所吸引,全劇流暢而落,酣暢淋漓,幾乎沒有留給觀眾出戲的機會。

本劇的首版是2011年《〇》,我猜應該讀作“零”,而同時其形狀又是一個空洞。重新製作的這個版本中提到零乘以任何數都是零,而零乘以零得出的零也是無限,應該與第一個版本有所聯繫。這次舞台上厚重的人物存在感能令觀眾更加從人的角度與劇中涉及的哲學困境產生聯繫。 “Alone”,一個“窿”——從來相悖相融的語言遊戲都會讓人感到永遠有一步之遙的趣味,而我們只是被語言和意義困住的動物。

Read in English

A Mad World My Masters | English Touring Theatre and RSC

May 2015 | Barbican

The original play written by Thomas Middleton was a satire on London life back when society was very bawdy and at the same time puritan. Creators Sean Foley and Phil Porter re-stage it in 1950s Soho with the notion that this historically unconventional, culturally subversive and morally notorious area was a suitable and not ironically unimaginative setting (and to view the audience with as much dimness as many of the gags in this piece.)

There are two plots to this story, one in which Richard Follywit tries to swindle his uncle’s great wealth and another where Penitent Brothel tries to win sexual access to a married woman with the help of a crafty prostitute. The text has been adapted to apply to a contemporary audience, changing names to sound more familiar and clean up the obscurities of the historical context, although often unnecessarily. For example, Bounteous Progress, the rich snob who wants to gain favour and privilege amongst the political class is renamed ‘Peersucker’ – fair enough, Richard Desmond, (with whom the similarity is obvious) is the owner of numerous Red Top newspapers and a pornography channel and has been funding both Conservatives and UKIP in order to be selected for Peerage. But ‘Shortrod Harebrain’ didn’t need to be renamed ‘Littledick.’ It’s the start of many superfluous changes that underestimate the intelligence of the audience.
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Betrayal: A Polyphonic Crime Drama | I Fagiolini

May 2015 | Village Underground

The queue starts outside the location; a dank, former victorian warehouse on a side-street away from the noise of the Hackney nightlife. With access permits in hand, the audience are eventually bustled through the closely gated ‘crime-scene’ led by surly officers giving out torches and rapping out access rules. The space is littered with junk and odd pieces of old furniture. It’s the kind of area a murder would take place in, or at least a place a body would be dumped. Chalk outlines decorate the concrete floor, exposed by the type of flood light you see on police-dramas, alongside boards with photos and post-it notes of details about victims or suspects. In the gloom, somewhere in the tightly gathered crowd, song rises through the dense space.
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The Possible Impossible House | Forced Entertainment

December 2014 | Barbican Pit Theatre

Forced Entertainment offer their first show for young audiences, and while their trademark performance style and signature elements remain true to form the piece lacks the relevant adjustments for a more demanding audience.

The story itself carries the audience through a strange house while ‘you’ search for a lost doodle-drawn spider for a small drawn girl in a book. Throughout the journey we confront various creatures, birds, dancing soldiers and a rhino among many, all projected with semi-crude drawings onto cardboard which, combined with a keyboard and microphone has a rough but imaginative quality that can often be more successful than fully realised set pieces (like the brilliant Het Filaal’s Miss Ophelia). Rambling through this world has the quirky substance of a child telling a story: why a Rhino? Why did the mouse give a pointless key, isn’t that a hole in the story?
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Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 | Royal Shakespeare Company

December 2014 | Barbican Theatre

The RSC with Gregory Doran continue the History Plays series at the Barbican following last years successful Richard II. Henry’s powerful former allies revolt against him in the messy aftermath of Richard’s abdication and murder. It’s the usual affair of armour and chivalry common with the traditional RSC productions popular amongst tourists and regulars but it falls short of the excitement and flair of a realised Shakespeare piece and feels more like the stiff, archaic performance in a static, formulaic manner that feels REALLY long (something which figures like John Barton worked hard to overcome.) This review will attempt to emulate this verily; prepare for nit-picking in a blandly structured essay.
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A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It) | Dmitri Krymov Lab

November, 2014 | Barbican Theatre

Dmitri Krymov realises Shakespeare’s thematic and theatrical intentions through the meta-theatrical episode of the ‘Mechanicals’ in the play. Rather than lovers and fairies in the forest, it’s the company of players and their attempts to present what they see as the ultimate archetypical love story in Pyramus and Thisbe that draws the Shakespearian oscillation of dramatic forms together.

Here, commonplace elements like “Tragedy/Comedy, Foolishness/Seriousness, Laughter/sadness” (Krymov, 2014) are seamlessly executed between highly contrived Art and baseness of the coarse. Krymov, who started as a theatre designer, equates his Lab with the meta-company led by Quince; merely craftsmen making a production that’s “not yet ready” of a love story in a scratch of a space. So being, the ‘performers’ are mostly stage-hands, a pair of opera singers, some circus artists and a talented dog (which, by the way, is clearly in the text with Robin Starveling’s “this thorn-bush, my thorn-bush, and this dog, my dog.” Act V, sc.1) All of which present Pyramus and Thisbe with crude yet beautiful, comic yet sad, giant puppets. The dream of the play is in the Mechanicals, in the environment is the art.
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Ravens, We Shall Load Bullets | Yukio Ninagawa

November 2014 | Kwai Tsing Theatre

My review for Ravens, We Shall Load Bullets will be fairly brief, because I have only one criticism to offer: the theatre was nowhere near full. There has clearly been some failure in marketing or education, because this is best piece of international work I have seen here so far, and it is so perfectly relevant to Hong Kong right now that it deserves to be sold out. It seems that in spite of Hong Kong’s relative proximity to Japan, Ninagawa isn’t as famous here as in Europe.
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Watch Me Fall | Action Hero

October 2014 | Kwai Tsing Theatre, Hong Kong, New Vision Arts Festival

With Watch Me Fall, Action Hero do an excellent job of deconstructing the spectacle of risk as entertainment in a way that is playful, funny and painfully human.

James Stenhouse and Gemma Paintin are charming enough to bring us along for the improbable ride of coca cola-based daredevilry, using text that apparently comes from a mix of real interviews with daredevils, Chuck Yeager, president’s speeches, Mexican wrestling matches, drag races and so on. When we enter we’re given cans of coke and disposable cameras. The cameras are a big hit in Hong Kong, and the amateur photographers in the audience are eagerly trying to photograph the ‘big’ moments. It’s a great start and gets us involved and invested in the performance.
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