Catalyst Theatre, The House of Pootsie Plunkett

Review in Issue 11-3 | Autumn 1999

It is very rarely that one witnesses a theatre piece in which the spoken text gels perfectly with the visual, musical and physical elements. This production, by Canada’s Catalyst Theatre, comes close to achieving that blissful state of truly organic union. The piece is loosely based on the legend of Electra, and retains the basic structure and characterisations of the mythical text, transposing the narrative to the icy frontiers of northern Canada, in a timeless world of ice and snow. The performance style is certainly reminiscent of Berkoff, another rethinker of mythological texts, and the heightened characterisations of the murderous mother and her meat-craving boyfriend could be straight out of one of his works – although the lightness of touch which marks these characters as simultaneously horrific, hilarious and tragic comes from a subtlety and delicacy of performance which is often lacking in work that draws upon Berkoff’s style.

The design for this production perfectly captures the frozen landscapes of the northern frontier, all glass and transparent perspex, and really evokes, through the simplest of means, the cold splendour of the play’s eponymous homestead. Music underscores and punctuates every scene, every significant moment, with perfect clarity.

In managing to fuse the use of music, design and physicalisation so fluidly in this production, Catalyst Theatre have produced a really mesmerising, funny and touching piece of work.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-3
p. 22 - 23