Friday, 3 February 2012

Thyestes @ Carriage Works

Thank you to my friends Dave and Kerensa for inviting me to see Thyestes with them on Wednesday night. Hosted by the excellent Belvoir Company, the play was staged at the Carriage Works in Everleigh, rather than their usual home in Surry Hills.

If, like me, you didn't know that Thyestes was a Greek tragedy first performed in the first century. You might not know that it was also the inspiration behind Shakespeare's Titus Andronicas.

The cast were performing a thoroughly modern adaptation of the play that they had co-written and first performed in Melbourne 2010.

At the start of the play the curtains rose simultaneously at the front and back of the stage. I initially thought we were looking into a huge mirror before realising that the stage was open to the audience on both side. A unique concept I haven't seen before.

Above and below the stage were rolling LCD displays which condensed the thrust of the scene into a couple of sentences. The actors barely sought to develop the plot. What they did do, in a very modern context, was seek to develop the characters and emotional story of the play.

It sounds like an odd concept and it was. However, it worked and was very engaging. Particularly during the first half of the play, I have hardly seen a more engaged audience. We were laughing out load and bouncing along to the music blaring from the iPod.

Playing to an audience at the front and back of the stage, it was inevitable that the characters would have their back to you sometimes. When this did happen it could be difficult to hear the actors. While most of the sexual references during the play were cringe worthy / humorous, I found the sixth scene where Atreus was taking revenge on his wife Aerope pushed the boundaries too far.

Despite my minor grumbles, the acting was excellent. With a unique concept and quirky stage it is well worth going before the play ends on 19th February.

If you do go, and work out how the props are manouvered on and off stage please let me know. How did the baby grand piano appear?

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