LIFT / Performing Lines Production, The Theft of Sita

Review in Issue 13-4 | Winter 2001

The production was of a scale which made it hard to fit into Riverside's main auditorium, and it attracted so many punters that it could have run for weeks instead of days. The attraction was its extraordinary contemporaneity: even the brochure hinted at the towers of New York, though it was printed a long while ahead of September 11th. The show's message was the loss of beauty and innocence in a modern industrialised world, and the medium was shadow theatre, in particular the seamless transformation of a traditional form of Indonesian Wayang Kulit into jagged modem shadows with a harsh contemporary aesthetic. East met West, the Balinese dalang (performer-puppeteer) was joined by an Australian master puppeteer; the glorious sounds of the Indonesian gamelan orchestra were gradually subverted by a clutch of western instruments, a metaphor for the invasion of the paradise jungle by western capitalism and its attendant detritus.

The performance, directed by Nigel Jamieson, was a theatrical triumph. The story told of the gentle Sita stolen from her husband Rama, who sends his two comic servants on a journey through the future to bring her back. As they wander they marvel at the incomprehensible destruction of their old world. They find Sita at last, and the ending is both hopeful and questioning. Julian Crouch was chief designer, complemented by others who produced additions to the scores of marvellously manipulated characters. My only criticism was the occasional banality of the text and the unsubtle assault of the modern music. Cacophony was dramaturgically necessary, certainly, but less of it would have been more effective. It was a feast, but one that left you with a bitter sweet taste.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-4
p. 26