[THEATRE ~ SA]
Rumpus Theatre, Bowden, Thu 23 Sep.
The approaching closure of Bakehouse Theatre will leave a big hole in Adelaide’s theatre scene so it’s encouraging to see other new and innovative theatre companies like Rumpus coming on board. Rumpus was formed in 2019 in response to a ‘lack of a thriving industry second tier’ of theatre. Their current offering, Triumph Of Man, should, in an ideal world, be irrelevant but is sadly reminiscent of much of modern life. Loosely based on a chubby little dictator from an unnamed ‘small but not unimportant’ country we watch as General Ferdinand attempts to fashion society according to his own beliefs, and in the process ensure that he is adored and respected by his people. With no exceptions. No one is safe from this seemingly charming tyrant who turns quickly against those who dare cross him. “I do not know this woman.”
Media spin is a feature of life in this country and is closely controlled by the General and his sycophantic minions. Preference is given to those who portray him most favourably. (Sound familiar?) State sponsored entertainment is the only theatre allowed, and the General rather fancies himself as an accomplished playwright.
The action all takes place in what might be called theatre of the long with the audience seated along the entire length of an elongated performance space. This allows for some effective intimate communication with the audience occasionally – the audience is often closer than fellow cast members – and expansive movement up and down the performance space that encourages grand amusing entrances. It’s intriguing initially but it does become a bit like a like a tennis match with the audience having to constantly turn their heads from one side to the other.
Yoz Mensch is excellent as the General; a lovable buffoon one minute and psychotic tyrant the next – Mensch has them all covered. Arran Beattie (Prisoner One) has a great stage presence. We acutely feel his angst and frustration and some moments of physical theatre with his co-prisoner, played by Chris Best, were quite gripping. Beattie’s mild panic and Best’s more stable and steady approach were a good foil for each other.
Triumph Of Man is an entertaining and amusing romp through serious terrain. It’s a brave production that takes risks and largely succeeds. Rumpus Theatre will be one to keep an eye on.
Triumph Of Man continues at Rumpus Theatre, 100 Sixth St, Bowden, at various times, until Sun 26 Sep.
Bookings at EventBright. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.