Review: Metafour (Glorious Thing Theatre Co)

gloriousthingVenue: PACT Theatre (Erskineville NSW), Jul 30 – Aug 15, 2015
Playwright: Samuel Beckett
Director: Erica J Brennan
Cast: Aslam Abdus-Samad, Bodelle De Ronde, Victoria Greiner, Sophie Littler, Pollyanna Nowicki, Gideon Payten-Griffiths
Image by Stephen Godfrey

Theatre review
Encompassing four short plays by Samuel Beckett; namely Quad, Rockaby, Come And Go, and Catastrophe, this exploration into Beckett’s experimental work is a daring venture into some of the most abstract writing for the theatrical space. Whether entirely composed of stage directions or of barely coherent dialogue, this is a collection of pieces that requires an examination of a practitioner’s relationship with conventions and ingenuity. Beckett uses time and space as language, without the aide of stories, to find a mode of communication that necessitates original thought from all participants. We confront the nature of theatre, and of art, to contemplate how the stage operates, and also how our psyches and senses work in the creation and reception of art.

The only certainty in theatre should be the very presence of an audience in a space that is activated in any capacity by artists. Beckett’s writing is interested in the essence of that connection, and the creative mechanisms that become available when people converge at showtime. Erica J Brennan’s direction embraces the ephemeral quality inherent in the text, to create an experience that compels us to pay attention to the erratic movement of time in the production, through fascinating sequences, bewildering moments, and periods of boredom. The work is a risky one that can alienate, but the discovery of theatrical qualities beyond entertainment and sentimentality, in its sophisticated deconstructed form, is valuable. The encounter is often meditative, hypnotic and mesmeric. Our approach as spectators is an unusual and stimulating one, and even though the discomfort and challenges it presents can be disarming, what endures is striking imagery and unique sensations that are rarely encountered.

Being present is key to the appreciation of Metafour, and being there is its main point. The meanings that the show imparts are difficult to articulate, but their subliminal existence is powerful. There are forms of art independent of words, and it is their visceral effects that demonstrate their relevance. At its best, this presentation of Beckett’s work opens minds and advances cultural milieus. At its worst, it numbs our senses, but we cannot resist returning to the impressions it leaves behind, for a repeated experience of their mystery. Time is made elastic, and the show continues to linger.