Presented by Societas Raffaello Sanzio
Reviewed 25 February 2016
Romeo Castellucci is undoubtedly one of the great, contemporary theatre practitioners, and this production is the Australian premiere of his controversial Go, Down, Moses.
Using the loose framework of the life of Moses, Castellucci has created a piece which borders on performance art; it is almost a dance production, without the dance. The painterly quality is not surprising, considering his background in painting and scenography. But this is not a play, in the conventional sense of the word. Instead of a clear narrative, the audience is presented with a series of tableaux, only one of which contains any dialogue. As well as being used as a projection screen for the English surtitles, the down-stage scrim remains in place through the entire piece, thereby adding to the dream-like quality of the work.
This is a theatrically brilliant production: the acting, design, direction and effects, are all faultless. However, the piece itself is just too clever for its own good. The opening night audience comprised intelligent, well-educated and theatrically aware people, most of whom just seemed bemused. Testament to this was the polite and respectful applause, devoid of any enthusiasm.
Much of the post-show discussion consisted of “what on earth was that about?”. I fully embrace art which confronts, which takes one out of the comfort zone, and which engenders passionate discussion. Although this succeeded in the first two, it failed in the third. Most of us had so little understanding of what we had just seen, that we had no basis for discussion, other than to work through our confusion.
I applaud the Festival for bringing Castelluci’s company out here: this is certainly the kind of show the Festival should be about. It was just disappointing that it was so clever that it failed to communicate with its audience. Which is a pretty basic requirement of any art.
Anyone sensitive to noise should take ear-plugs, as there are many very loud, and very lengthy, sound effects. The show also contains nudity and a sex-scene, so is recommended for 18+.
If you have an interest in theatre, then this is worth seeing. Just don’t feel stupid if you haven’t got a clue what’s going on. You’re in good company.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse
Season: 25 February-28 February
Duration: 1 hour 30 mins
Bookings: Book through Bass