Gardzienice Centre for Theatre Practices, Metamorphoses & Elektra

Review in Issue 18-2 | Summer 2006

I think I may be a lone voice on this one, but I left these ‘theatrical essays’ almost brutalised into submission. Both works are relatively short, yet cram into them such an array of sounds and actions that they grab hold of you and pin you to your seat. While pinned, though, I’m left struggling to get a foothold on the thematic and narrative strands.

Metamorphoses is loosely inspired by Apuleius’ The Golden Ass. The piece is driven by multiple lines of song, both ancient and modern, that twist and turn throughout. The performers craft a dazzlingly intense experience that has a deep musical logic, but personally I felt adrift, needing more non-musical support to the action.

Not quite theatre and not quite a concert, it lies somewhere in-between, and in this in-between space I’m struggling to find what this piece wants to say about the world. At times I felt cut to the bone by the musical qualities that erupted from the stage; at others strangely distant from the whole thing.

Elektra, Gardzienice’s most recent work, has a greater theatrical clarity, helped by a short lecture/exposé of the codified gestural language the piece utilises (a ‘re-birthing’ of the ancient Greek theatrical technique of Cheironomia). This physical language serves as a point of access for the audience and allows us to make sense of the emotional and narrative trajectories of the piece. Particularly striking is the work of Anna-Helena McLean (Elektra) who, at her best, has a Wigman-like quality, catapulting us into the emotional landscape of the character, but at other times the style just jars.

There is an incredible amount of power in both pieces, but at some points I just felt excluded from their purpose. As experiences, they are vivid and evocative, but as performance there’s something missing, and I still can’t quite place it.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2006

This article in the magazine

Issue 18-2
p. 28