Theatre de Complicite, Out of a House Walked a Man

Review in Issue 7-1 | Spring 1995

Theatre de Complicite have an extraordinary ability to take a seemingly simple narrative – a man believing he has killed an old lady – and transform it into a superbly performed and ingeniously conceived production. Out of a House Walked a Man, at the National’s Lyttleton Theatre, combined humour, slapstick, theatrical jokes and clichés with absurdism, black comedy, tragicomedy and a belief in the purposelessness of life.

Kathryn Hunter, who played the old lady, exemplified the skill of the company’s performers. Her performance was mesmerising as she drifted in and out of the protagonist’s troubled consciousness, playing with his earthly hunger for food, and cerebral hunger to write. We were presented with a carefully crafted and choreographed ensemble who whirled around the disturbed poet, Daniil Kharms (played by both Jozef Houben and Toby Sedgwick). This chorus consisted not only of consummate performers, but also musicians and singers who provided an eclectic and unconventional underscore to the protagonist’s plight.

The domineering backdrop served to represent not only the chaos of life – but also the artistic oppression of 1920s Russia. Characters melted in and out of its surface, swooping up the various props as the show glided onto the stage only to disappear with a haunting beauty.

Complicite have absorbed this little known Russian poet’s way of thinking. Parallelling their own impressions and views of the seemingly ridiculous in theatre, a skilfully crafted piece of theatrical poetry has been created that should not be missed.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Dec 1994

This article in the magazine

Issue 7-1
p. 21