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Lloyd Newson / DV8 - photo by Matt Nettheim

Adelaide Festival: To Be Straight With You, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; and Sacred Monsters

Adelaide International Arts Festival

I traveled to Adelaide for part of its International Arts Festival. Two works stood out for me. TO BE STRAIGHT WITH YOU, a production by DV8 Physical Theatre, led BY Lloyd Newson from Great Britain. On every level from the verbatim text, the politics, the skills of the performers (especially in their clarity of storytelling whilst dancing or moving even skipping), the video artists and the exhilarating technology that supported it all, this was great theatre. 

I often lament that the theatre is too tame and all too often a bourgeois comfort of sedation. It was thrilling to be stirred to Anger and have a need to express one’s Outrage. This took me back to reading of the Mercury Theatre productions, or the early theatre productions of Gorky or Brecht in my History of Theatre texts. Provocative material that does change one’s view of part of our contemporary life. The Company and ALL the bodies that help this company to work deserve high praise. I hope it returns for an Australian Tour.

The second work was the Schaubuhne, Thomas Ostermeier production of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Wonderfully conceived and daringly acted by these actors it was a bracing night in the theatre. The outrageous choices of Kirsten Dene as Big Mama and the bravura last act of Bettina Hoppe as Mae were well balanced by a truly dying Big Daddy, Josef Bierbichler (his cancerous pain was palpable) and the intelligence and focus of Jule Bowe as Margaret and Mark Waschke as Brick. The Set Design along with the Music and Video support all added to give one an Epic night in the theatre .Great lessons for our local artists in Australia. Strange that the program note does not acknowledge Tennessee Williams as the originator of the work.

SACRED MONSTERS with Sylvie Giuillem and Akram Khan was ok. More an invitation to watch two great dancers workshop with each other. They shouldn’t have spoken, it was dull and trite. Clearly their strengths were in their dance and movement. It was a priviledge to watch them in the flesh together. Much preferred the last Akram Khan piece ZERO DEGREES and am now nervous with what will happen when he pairs up with Juliet Binoche!!!!!