January 02, 2020

Murray Bramwell’s Cultural Moment of 2019

Among many cultural moments this year, two stand out. Both in the theatre. Both test the possibilities and limits of performance and representation. In the Adelaide Festival, director Milo Lau’s Belgian-German collaboration La Reprise (The Repetition) deconstructs a gay-hate murder which took place in 2012, in Liege, Belguim.

Dissecting the business and strategies of theatre, it explores both human transgression and the tricks of acting – the better for us to understand an unfathomable cruelty. Rau proposes a theatre with new rules. Only in the last ten minutes, in a miasma of lights, video screens and simulated violence, is the crime performed – and simultaneously analysed. La Reprise is intricate, intelligent and original theatre.

In Joseph Mitchell’s excellent OzAsia Festival, is The Dark Master, an excursion in hyper-reality by Japanese director Kuro Tanino. A young backpacker happens into a run-down bistro in Osaka. The misanthropic chef serves a delicious omelette and traps him into running the business for him.

Using a cordless earpiece (the audience also has a headphone link) he instructs the unworldly young man in the art of cooking, supervising through hidden cameras. Gradually our hero becomes a master cook. The food is literally prepared in a real kitchen, the audience savouring every aroma. The Dark Master is a fable, a dream play, and David Lynch surrealism. It is funny, sinister, shocking, and wholly captivating.

Murray Bramwell’s Cultural Moment of 2019The Australian, January 2, 2020, p.12.

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