Scena Plastyczna KUL, Odchodzi (Passing Away)

Review in Issue 18-2 | Summer 2006

The rough-edged simplicity of the Annex of La Mama E.T.C. suited director Leszek Madzik and his company Scena Plastyczna KUL perfectly, for the power of this short and enigmatic piece, Odchodzi, derived not from anything that was immediately recognisable as theatre, but from their ability to conjure a mysterious atmosphere from the actual place. With the audience seated, the house lights dim very slowly, and the whole thing takes place in such near darkness that one’s eyes strain to make things out, misread the scale of things and, I suspect, imagine things in the darkness that aren’t actually there.

What can be made out suggests religious ceremony: a Madonna in a wooden box that tips backwards like a coffin; a smoke-filled chamber in which a woman lies flat and a man seems to mourn. The pace is slow, as though one is watching the operation of some ancient machinery in the dark. The music that occurs at the same time (the word ‘accompaniment’ would understate the case) comprises a strange amalgam of pre-recorded instrumentation – some parts Gorecki, some parts Garbarek, some parts generic moody synth-pop – over which Polish jazz legend Urszula Dudziak improvises a beautiful vocal.

At the piece’s understated conclusion, many of the audience were genuinely uncertain whether the performance had finished, and as they were reluctant to join in the sporadic applause, there was the sense that they didn’t think much of what they had seen. This is unfortunate, because this was one of the more remarkable pieces of visual theatre that I have seen for a long while.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2006

This article in the magazine

Issue 18-2
p. 29