Tag: morality

REVIEW: Fernando Arrabal’s THE TWO EXECUTIONERS

Parodoxes of humanity and morality brought to light

By Myron My

Directed by Mammad Aidani, The Two Executioners deals with the repercussions of a woman who reports her husband to the authorities for an unnamed crime. As he is tortured upstairs, the woman and her two sons argue over their guilt and betrayal.

There are many questions raised throughout the play: why has Francoise reported her husband? What crime has Jean committed? How has this woman created such a strong hold over her sons?

The-Two-Executioners

None of these are fully answered and we are left to our own creative devices to ponder and resolve. The lighting also plays a part in creating this intense and ambiguous atmosphere with a lot of shadows being deliberately cast on the actors. The stage is never fully lit with only small pockets given light at a time, thus literally keeping us in the dark as to what is truly happening and who is in control. Another effective direction of Aidani’s was to have the torture of Jean occur off stage – with the audience able to hear his screams of pain our imaginations are forced to create the horror.

Wahibe Moussa is exceptional as Francoise. She initially comes across as a desperate woman and a victim, but slowly crosses the line to manipulator and betrayer. It’s not always clear which way she will go and as Moussa plays the role full of subtleties, you are left guessing even after the play has ended as to whether Francoise was indeed a good person with high morals – or the true villain of this story.

Clearly Francoise is the protagonist of this tale, but I would have liked to see more character exploration with her sons, Maurice and Benoit (Shahin Shafaei and Osamah Sami). Maurice has a lot of anger but also displays conflicting emotions towards his mother which needed justification, and would have been great to see Shafaei able to deal with these contradictions in the narrative. Sami may have had a few opening night nerves but quickly found his way and established his character as Francoise’s ‘favourite’ son, but I felt the ensuing tension between him and his brother needed to be developed further.

There are times when the story does flounder and get repetitive in its dialogue which can sometimes take you out of the moment and undercut the drama. However, what draws you back in is the beautiful and poetic language used throughout the play, which is not surprising given playwright Fernando Arrabal‘s background in poetry.

Overall, The Two Executioners has some strong performances, some lovely writing, and brings to surface many dark questions about good and evil and right and wrong that will keep you thinking long after the lights come down.

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street Carlton

Season: Until 25 August | Wed-Sat 6:30pm, Sun 4:30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au or 9347 6142

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REVIEW: Back to Back Theatre Present HELL HOUSE

Paving the way to a remarkable theatre experience

By Anastasia Russell-Head

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, turning up at the Artshouse Meat Market for the opening night of Back to Back’s Hell House. Ushered in to the ticket desk, we were given coloured stickers to place on our collars and told to wait until we were called. After a few minutes we were asked to assemble down a flight of stairs in a black plastic-shrouded antechamber. Strange sounds could be heard from round about, and no-one really knew what was going to happen next.

Soon enough the show began, and we were introduced to our devilish guide who walked us through a series of strange and horrific vignettes – a young man’s funeral, an abortion, a car crash, a suicide, a pagan sacrifice – until finally we reached hell itself.

This play originated in bible-belt USA churches, where it is performed annually to thousands of young Christians – the aim being to scare them into re-confirming their faith. Interestingly, Back to Back stages this version as an “anthropological study”, not aiming to pass judgment or present a particular point of view. In fact, the presentation of the play is only one half of the production; the other half being an interactive forum looking at themes of provocation, belief and morality.

For me, the forum (with panelists Scott Stephens, Waleed Aly, Clare Bowditch and Benjamin Myers) was almost more provocative than the play – in that it caused me to completely re-think the way I had viewed and approached the original work. Questions were asked about judgment, consequentialism, good and evil – and Waleed Aly even wove in a few Batman allegories for good measure!

At first I wanted to laugh at the simplistic morality, the black-and-white-ness, the you’ll-all-go-to-hell-sinners vibe of the work. Yet this is not irony. It’s not for laughs (although there are a couple of giggle-worthy moments). It’s not about poking fun at fundamentalism. Rather, this production seeks to begin a discussion and open the door for some serious debate. I’m still musing about it the next morning, which is a sure sign of a thought-provoking work.

Hell House by Back to Back Theatre at Arts House, Meat Market

Until Sunday 5 August

Saturday 4 August: Performances every 10 minutes from 7pm, followed by forum at 8.30pm.

Sunday 5 August: Performances every 10 minutes from 2pm, followed by forum at 3.30pm.

Full $25 / Concession $20

Book online or phone 03 9322 3713

REVIEW: Simon Taylor’s 10 THINGS I KNOW ABOUT YOU

Fall in love with laughter!

By Adam Tonking

Every now and then a show comes along that you can’t help but fall in love with. One of the many joys of reviewing is that I get to write a love letter to it.

I admit it, I have a crush on 10 Things I Know About You, written and performed by Simon Taylor.

On the surface, this show is about psychology, a topic that clearly fascinates Taylor. He takes us through the psychology of morality, delusion, love, comedy, and ultimately happiness; but this is first and foremost a comedy routine, and it is hilarious.

Taylor sings to us, he dances for us, he regales us with stories from his life and quotes from his psychology textbook. He is so delightful, and so very talented, that you can’t resist being drawn into his upbeat exploration of the human mind.

In between the constant laughs and all the psychology, this is a cleverly-crafted show. Taylor is in complete control of his audience and his material the entire time; no line is superfluous, no joke misses its mark. Even when it’s informative, it never ceases to be funny. And through all of his antics, he never strays from the flow of his narrative arc.

The various butts of his jokes were sometimes a little too obvious, but he comes at them from a fresh perspective, and keeps them contextual. It never feels like pandering, or playing for cheap laughs.

All of this builds to an amazing finale of such simplicity and brilliance it blows you away. You leave the show with a smile on your face and a spring in your step, and – if you’re me – head home to write a love-letter to it.

Taylor’s show is magnificent, and I dare you to see it and not come out feeling better about the world. And a little bit in love.

But enough gushing like a schoolgirl. Simon Taylor’s 10 Things I Know About You is on at The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne from Wednesday 28 March till Sunday 22 April, at 8pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays, and 9pm Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Book at www.thebutterflyclub.com, and do it now.