David Glass Ensemble, The Hansel Gretel Machine

Review in Issue 10-2 | Summer 1998

There is a gap between Glass’ vision of this project, as outlined in the last issue of Total Theatre (10.1), and the actuality of the piece. On stage, the work seems less than it’s aiming for, and is consequently (and disappointedly) an unfulfilled vision.

There are many powerful moments and narrative sequences. The use of ‘pre verbal expressive text’ is effective. The sounds uttered by an abandoned child are haunting and stay with me still. There is a striking image of a foetus hanging over a mother and of a mewling child wrapped in swaddling. The images of the moments of loss of the mother and brother characters are purely theatrical.

But these moments are undermined by some poor movement technique and a fumbling use of stage space, which break the form of the images being created. The power of the hanging foetus is offset by the performers tripping on the lights’ trailing leads, as they struggle to manipulate it. The technical effects are beyond both the means and the needs of the show. Too many moments have the feeling of a dream or a journey without carrying any of the psycho-mythical resonance of the original folk-tale and archetypes.

As a series of evocations of the lost child, this piece achieves its aim in some fleeting moments. But these moments are not sustained or deepened. What little narrative sense there is, is often undermined by the quality of the staging and the performances.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-2
p. 24