Simple, elegant, soulful and sleek
By Myron My
Coming to Australia for the first time and produced and performed by Godot Art Association from Macau and Theatre Moments from Japan for this year’s Fringe Festival, Panic is based on a short story written by Kōbō Abe, a Japanese novelist and dramatist and once a candidate laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The story revolves around a man who takes an employment exam for a company and ends up waking up next to a dead body. From here, the nightmare has just begun as his life begins to collapse in front of his very own eyes. The running theme in many of Abe’s works of alienation and society’s role in this, are explored and displayed effectively.
The play is performed in three languages: Cantonese, Japanese and English, which is already an interesting aspect to the show, and evokes the idea that we are all the same, and all connected and affected by the world in which we live. It’s enjoyable to attempt to follow the story without understanding what is happening all the time and base your interpretation on the physicality of the actors and your imagination, but to those that do require this ‘security’, there are English subtitles displayed on the wall.
Panic uses a minimalist approach for the whole production, from the staging, to costumes and to props. This forces the companies to get creative with how the themes and narrative are conveyed and portrayed and they do a brilliant job in addressing this issue. Apart from a trolley, toilet paper is the only item used in the performance and takes the place of all the ‘props’ used, from mobile phones to beer and to hairdryers, the insinuation being that, at the end of the day, all these material possessions mean nothing and just get “flushed away”.
Although this doesn’t necessarily affect how I feel about a show, it was a pleasure to see actors on stage genuinely beaming with joy at having performed to an audience. On opening night the applause continued for quite some time after Panic ended, and it was deservedly so.
Venue: Revolt, 12 Elizabeth St, Kensington
Season: Until 28 September| 6:30pm
Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Conc