Dark Horse Productions, The Joy Society

Review in Issue 14-4 | Winter 2002

This densely packed new production by Dark Horse begins serenely and elegantly but quickly descends into orchestrated chaos. Dark Horse reference the erosion of control by drugs, spiritual movements and a variety of human desires, as represented through the conflict between Rev. Master Barry and his trio of buffoons.

Lying neatly in the territory of physical theatre, Bim Mason’s company draw upon a variety of skills and techniques that can be sourced within Mason’s Lecoq training and subsequent work at Circomedia. The show is a blend of clowning tactics and puppetry. The added use of aerial silk work allows a haven for Master Barry’s tolerant and beautiful assistant, the only character unsullied by the chaos of the conflict.

We are treated to a succession of inventive comic scenarios: a puppet show that wavers delightfully between pathos and comic chaos as it disintegrates before our eyes, a modern morality play, introducing us to ‘Business’, his ‘Bastard son Advertising’ and a host of other characters. We are suitably entertained by this pastiche and the audience responds warmly to the buffoons, who reciprocate by increasing the intensity of their chaotic performance as the piece reaches a climax with a rapid succession of nightmarish images. This final phase of licentious behaviour is the key to Dark Horse’s investigation into the roots of carnival with its paradoxically liberating and controlling forces in medieval and contemporary society.

In the transitions between sections the piece loses momentum, but the imaginative barrage of images hooks the predominantly youthful audience. Ideally suited for those new to the genre, but with enough for experienced audiences to be entertained.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-4
p. 26 - 27