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July 29, 2013 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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Review of Merely to be Normal – THEA406 Season One

Existence by Edward Bond, directed by Andrew Clarke.

A dark and haunting piece, this performance created a sinister atmosphere with inconsistent success. Dealing with the practical issues of a play staged entirely in the dark, the lighting was effective in creating the appropriate atmosphere and in allowing us (mostly) to see some semblance of emotion on the actors’ faces. The piece was incredibly effective in creating valuable moments of discomfort, but the disjointed pacing and brief moments of humour created a strange and occasionally dull ambiance. The stage-combat was well blocked, but a perhaps overexcited male lead created danger for the female lead, which made me incredibly uncomfortable. The cutesy coin-toss to start and hug to end did little to ease the discomfort I felt about the actors’ physical interactions. The emotion of the piece was well communicated, despite the occasional substitution of volume in lieu of emotion on the part of the male lead, but this did not hinder my overall engagement with, and interest in, the performance.

The Lost Babylon by Takeshi Kawamura, directed by Fern Wallingford.

Laptop, vodka, coffee; we start the piece by viewing an image of total loneliness. A confusing context and a weak male lead led to an early disinterest in the piece. The blocking was consistently unrealistic and ineffective, and the music was often distracting. I could not help but be struck by the irony of the line, “It’s all about not boring the viewer.” The moments of excitement, engagement and humour were found in the conspiracy between soldier and writer, and in the strength of the female lead, especially during her monologue, although I found the use of media unnecessary. This piece showcased the talents of the female lead with a backdrop of a strange set, ineffective blocking, and an irritating use of media.

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