[THEATRE ~ AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE ~ BELGIUM/GERMANY]
Adelaide Festival Centre – Space Theatre, Wed 6 Mar.
Technology has had a significant impact on live theatre, and when coupled together with the creative vision of director Milo Rau you get something quite special. The story told here is the senseless murder of a young man in Liege, Belgium. Part of Rau’s credo of good theatre is that the inner workings of the production be open to public view, and we are therefore treated to a parallel tale of how this production came about. A short introduction guards against acting for its own sake, and we see the cast being auditioned for their parts in dual live modes – simultaneously live on a large screen, or by just observing the actors on stage.
This dual mode is used to offer a split focus at several points. At times the video and live action are in sync; at times the filmed sequence mirrors the live action but with slight differences. At other times the split focus is diametrically opposed – love versus violence for example. On each occasion you get to choose where and what to watch – unmediated direct observation, or on screen.
Another tenet of Rau’s work is that plays should be in multiple languages. In La Reprise Dutch, French and Arabic are spoken. English is in sub-titles only.
The graphic re-enactment of the murder is both disturbing and clever – and again we can choose to watch it directly, or on screen just like you might do at home on TV. Rau believes theatre should change the world. It isn’t entirely clear to me what La Reprise might change about the world but regular exposure to this method of presenting violence might serve to re-sensitise those who have grown used to on screen gratuitous violence.
This is powerful and gripping theatre. Thankfully there are intelligent laughs along the way to ease the tension. The cast is uniformly strong, authentic and humane. They do indeed appear to deliver a story and not just act. This creates a more engaged relationship between audience and cast, and also makes it harder to be blasé about the grim reality being played out before you.
La Reprise. Histoire(s) Du Theatre continues at Adelaide Festival Centre – Space Theatre from 8.30pm until Thu 7 Mar.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Michiel Devijver