HOW LUCKY WE ARE
New Theatre, October 2011. Presented by IPAN International Performing Arts Network in association with The Spare Room
The politicians don’t care for much beyond the populism of the day. The people tut-tut each other or heckle with home-made signs, and the boats keep smashing on distant rocks. There will be a day, we hope against hope, when the plight of international refugees will be acknowledged, and the western world will take on the responsibility it needs to face; globally, collectively, spiritually – to reach out to the downtrodden and persecuted peoples. Only when we fully accept the role such privilege plays in the global imbalances that create such desperation can we move forward. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but for the sake of our collective human soul. We must act with compassion. Not just in a “let them stay” kind of begrudging welcome (which is all we seem able to barely manage now)- but in a full acknowledgement of the privileges we are born to. To know just how lucky we are, we must face up to the misfortunes of others.
One can get on one’s high horse when it comes to people smuggling, whichever side of the fence one rides.
Lucky for us this play does no such thing. It brings the human stories, stripped down to their bare bones and rags, their most human of hopes riding waves of disappointment. It’s a difficult work to express, and director Sama Ky Balson has opted for simplicity in set and movement, allowing the measured, sparse poetry of the script to float around the production’s impressive physical and image theatre core. The third element in play is Joseph Nezeti’s sound design, comprising live vocals and harmonies that bring out the dreamlike qualities inherent in the script.
Dutch playwright Ferenc Alexander Zavaros has created a challenging piece for the cast to present; part realism part expressionism, and these challenges will translate for the audience as the cast bring a tone that recollects the detached voice of a poet reading their own work off the page. This, along with some slower pacing in the opening sequence means one needs to work that much harder to reach into the world of the play. But once we make that leap of empathy, the language and the semi-hypnotic physicality of the performance overcome the natural limitations this style of theatre can bring for an audience. One has to work towards engaging with the text, it’s deliberate that way – with poetry struggling against the possible, with the possible pushing up against the barriers of translation and the cut-throat desperation that comes with the will to survive.
So it isn’t much to ask an audience to sit forward and actively engage with this work. It’s not that difficult, but we cannot simply sit back and let this wash over us like so much entertainment. The play asks us to put in a little bit of work, and so it should, since the perils of asylum seekers and people smuggling will not go away without some effort on all our parts. But we shan’t get too preachy. People are not political chips, nor bodies piled up for one to take the moral high ground. This is quite a beautiful and rewarding piece of stagecraft, recommended for those of a mind for something that challenges without confronting, and probes without asking too many of the obvious questions. Go see.
Lucky, by Ferenc Alexander Zavaros. Playing at the New Theatre until October 22. Featuring Guy Simon, Drew Wilson, Hoa X with Joel Corpuz and Conrad Le Bron.
Photograph (c) Robbie Pacheco
Entry filed under: Dance/ Physical Theatre, Inside Theatre REVIEWS, New Work, Sydney THEATRE. Tags: Conrad Le Bron, Drew Wilson, Ferenc Alexander Zavaros, Guy Simon, Hoa X, Joel Corpuz, Lucky, New Theatre, people smuggling, refugee, Sama Ky Balson.