para active, Holy Terror

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

This show presents images of fanatics, fundamentalists and freedom fighters; of terrorists of all kinds who believe in killing to meet their political ends. It is a display of violent impulses and murderous intents. I use the word 'display’ advisedly, because this is not a show that attempts to offer explanations or moral justifications. It simply delivers a montage of images, presented without comment. There is no narrative, catharsis or exposition – just a stream of ideas that are thematically, if not dramatically, connected.

The effect of the performance is similar to a movie trailer, commercial or pop promo; it presents a kaleidoscope of rapid images and leaves the task of unravelling them to the viewer. And it proves to be quite a task, thanks to the heady mix of visual and aural stimuli that the cast of eight performers and three musicians provide. They conjure an array of character types (I'm loath to call them characters as they're presented one-dimensionally) in different scenarios – as hostages and interrogators, torturers and victims of torture, and so on. There are songs and movement sequences borrowed from various martial arts, all played out to the percussive beat of a Brazilian birimbau and a bass drum.

The cumulative effect should have been compelling. And, no doubt, it would have been were it not for the lack of focus from the majority of the cast. For all their noise and energy, most of the performers lacked emotional conviction. With the exception of Jade Maravala, who assisted with the direction of the piece as well as performing in it, they were not adequately in the moment. There was insufficient tension in the performance, and hence director Jonathan Grieve's ideas seemed incompletely realised. Which is a shame because stylistically and conceptually the company have something unique to contribute.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-1
p. 21