Faulty Optic / Mira Calix, Dead Wedding

Review in Issue 19-4 | Winter 2007

The challenge to redevelop such an established mythical story (of Orpehus and Eurydice) is an exciting one, and Faulty Optic’s theatrical aesthetic is always epic in its invention – more than robust enough to accommodate a radical revision in world-view. But this seemed a confidence that the collaborating artists didn’t hold for this show. The cardinal sin for me was its reliance on programme notes, which offered the only ‘in’ to the complex re-telling. Whilst this is an established convention in opera (the production was framed ‘to celebrate the ‘400th anniversary of opera’), surely expressive tools are available to transcend this necessity? With the responsibility to communicate clearly shunted offstage, the world in Dead Wedding became purely expressionistic. The rhythm of scenes felt stilted – sequences seemed overlong with detail loaded into the dextrous, witty puppetry, but its logic unclear. This aggravated by Mira Calix’s atonal vocal phrases which underscored throughout and which I found abrasive and tiring. There were some bravura moments – the stopmotion rendition of Orpheus’ journey to the Underworld (in a lift, of course), and the failed escape was achingly human in its flashes of primeval fears, nightmare-like frustrations and witty imagery. It felt real, frightening and funny and drew us entirely into Faulty Optic’s astonishing world. Counterpointing performed imagery with a musical score is a valid approach to making performance, but why use it if the stated ambition of the project is the sophisticated re-imagination of such a well-known story? For me, this production was an abstraction too far.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jul 2007

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-4
p. 34