Thursday, August 23, 2012

I have a sneaky secret lurking love for Russian physical theatre. Lord knows why. I suppose it must be the closet Anna Karenina.

So as DG emerged from a travesty of a Festen somewhere on the bridges, I disappeared into the dank bowels of Assembly Roxy with milliseconds to spare to watch a man who appears to have been practicing his peculiar form of art with the same whole-hearted intent and flexible fervour that he demonstrated when I first moved to this land - gulp - sixteen years ago.

Mephisto's Waltz.


Of course, it was utterly impenetrable. There were five of them, all bald and dressed in black. Our hero man and four younger acolytes.

They ran to and fro across the stage, sometimes carrying things. Sometimes they crawled. Sometimes they clambered up bits of the scenery.

After a while, our man changed into some pale coloured rags full of holes. The girls poured some mud on him. Then some pink paint. He rolled around on the floor for quite a while.

Then he put a hat on his head that looked like a bird's nest. One of the girls dressed up as a desiccated chicken. In stilettos.

The man brought on a small globe that looked like the world, sat on it, smashed it. And - o! - it was a watermelon. He ate it. And smeared what he could not manage or did not fancy all over the floor.

He changed back into a dark dress, stood near the front of the stage, smiled at us. Having thought I was going to vomit when he persisted in chomping on dry sticks some moments earlier, I soundly found him strangely desirable. O woman, how fickle you are!

The acolytes ran around some more in their long dark dresses.

Then they all disappeared. Lots of smoke. Pretty pink lights on the left-over watermelon. Though the acolytes had tried their best to clear it up. And then they all came on with sunflowers.

The couple in front of me kept laughing uproariously. I thought I was just utterly missing the point. Or the symbolism. Or something. Then they walked out after approx twenty minutes.

Having said that, the people on the front row laughed and chortled all the way through it. So maybe my sense of humour just isn't sophisticated enough. Or Russian enough.

Anyway, perplexity aside, there is no doubting the beauty of the piece. The lighting was quite exquisite. The physicality breathtaking.

Heartening to think that if I suddenly become mute (and acquire the grace of a dancer), I could carve out a career in physical theatre. I'd just dress as a chicken in stilettos.


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