Dende Collective, Agrestes - The Drylands

Review in Issue 19-3 | Autumn 2007

This was a very likeable production in which the charming component parts should have built to something more substantial, yet somehow didn’t succeed in doing so. I was surprised to discover that the material had been written originally as a play (by award wining Brazilian playwright Newton Moreno) – it read and was staged like storytelling. Perhaps something had been lost in translation?

The folkish story was gentle but gestured toward the mythic – a tale of true love of the most naïve and heart-warming kind, ultimately tarred by the wilful misconceptions of society. The Dende Collective made good use of a quartet of actors to dynamise their storytelling in-the-round, as well as to express an elegant point about the politics of gender and sexuality. Their theatrical language was a broad one encompassing a pleasurable live guitar and percussion score, moments invoking ritual and some arresting physical expression, although the mask work often lacked physical rigour. Michael Fowkes’s evocative design effectively created the arid world of the eponymous region of Brazil whose metaphoric associations greatly enriched the production as a whole.

However despite the arresting opening line (‘It should never have happened’) the dramatic whole never felt more than the sum of some intriguing parts.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2007

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-3
p. 33