Periplum Tree, Artaud in Wonderland

Review in Issue 13-3 | Autumn 2001

This was a unique and extraordinary piece that stretched my definitions of theatre as I watched it and is doing so now as I write this. Here, style and content were working in harmony to create an image and exploration of a raging, insightful, paranoid and delusional madness. Using a simple set of hanging white cloths, a soundtrack of breathing and domestic cries, and a series of swinging lights, the audience are plunged into the last rants of a dying disturbed genius. We are in a hospital, a garret room, a film set.

This is a startling evocation of the tortured drive of Antonin Artaud. This was no explanation, no cold analysis; here we were in the furnace of a mind that could imagine the concept of a Theatre of Cruelty and was compelled to articulate it. The play of words and ideas was complicated, but images still remain: a dialogue between Adolf Hitler and Groucho Marx, the paranoid loneliness of a man talking to his shoe and the sense of how the language of theatre and film mirror that of surgery and hospitals. Not an easy piece, something of an experience, but one performed by Damian Wright so mesmerisingly that as he bowed, I almost felt Artaud chuckling at us. Or was he cackling?

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-3
p. 28