Dunstan Playhouse, Thu 25 Feb
Even before the house lights are down and stragglers have found their seats the action has started. A group of smartly dressed adults moves around the stage sizing each other up, getting each other’s measure. Intriguing to watch, but what does it mean? Dürer’s famous painting Young Hare is pinned to a wall. Attractive image, but what can it possibly have to do with the story of Moses?
A young woman smothered in blood is in excruciating pain in a locked toilet. This is a difficult scene to watch. Has she given birth or prevented one? We later learn that she has a child but has abandoned it. In a police station an officer pleads with her to tell him what she has done with the child. She has placed him in a basket and pushed him out into the River Nile, like Moses in the bulrushes, so that he may grow up to set people free from their modern slavery.
A series of short scenes unfolds; some involving loud machinery. The connection between these scenes is not entirely clear, but does this matter? The acting is subtle and flawless. The final scene set in a Neanderthal cave is beautiful to watch, and an arresting soundscape makes it all the more powerful. A woman poignantly buries her dead child, with her group of cave-dwellers looking on. Is this the birth of a ritual? Then she must immediately engage in the act of creating another life. Her final message is a hand-painted ‘S.O.S.’
Castellucci seems to delight in making dense, difficult theatre. He would rather you went home and thought about his images and ideas than understand them all at once. The applause at the end is polite to begin with, but slowly builds and there are eventually cries of ‘Bravo’!
Societas Raffaello Sanzio have delivered a brave and compelling performance.
Go Down, Moses continues at Dunstan Playhouse – Adelaide Festival Centre, at various times, until Sun 28 Feb.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Guido Mencari