Bestiaires, manipulate Festival 2014, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Dudupavia Company / Netherlands, in co-operation with Riksteatret / Kilden Teater Norway & Lutkovno gladalisce Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dudu Paiva (concept/director) Jaka Ivanc (dramturg), Erikk Mckenzie (music), Kai Roger Havn, Mark Verhoef (lighting) Dudu Paiva, Jim Barnard, Joze Lasic, Karl Noreger (set)
Mart Müürisepp (dancer), Esther Natziji (dancer), Ilijaj Suria (dancer)
Running time

It’s a somewhat down-at-heel and down-in-the-mouth Cupid (Mart Müürisepp?) - the reason for uncertainty arises from the recent practice of listing company members without specifying role) on whom the lights go up at the opening of ‘Bestiares’. Down at heel because we all know what’s been happening in and to Greece in the last wee while, and down in the mouth because, well, you catch the drift.

Dudupavia inventively re-invent parts of the Greek pantheon to point up their own take on recent events, by means of physical theatre, puppetry, dance and some very creative set design and special effects.

After explaining that the Greek gods of old have decided to make their own particular contribution to dragging their embattled country out of the doldrums, we are introduced to both Athene (Esther Natziji) and Medusa (Ilija Suria?) and the company proceed to offer us their particular view of recent events and contemporary currents through the yearning of Persephone for the uninterested and aggressive Hades and Cupid’s spectacular struggle with Cerberus, as with the previous two characters, an exceptionally well designed and operated puppet.

Zeus is reduced to a remarkably mobile head, and this reviewer could hardly have been the only audience member impressed by Esther Natziji’s acrobatic and manipulative skills in not only emerging from the head of Zeus, but equally in moving said head around the stage and assisting its pronouncements, something of a cross between guru-like inscrutability and platitudinous punditry, reminding this reviewer of his favourite Asian grocer in laconic dead-pan mode.

Personal echoes aside, this is a tremendously inventive and energetic piece of theatre, comedic and considerational in intent and execution, the spectacular design idea and props never swamping and always supporting the action.

Although, to be fair, the story line is somewhat slight, even for the 75 minutes occupied, the quality and genuine theatricality of this production nudges it into the ‘five star’ category, which both performers and production staff work hard to achieve.

Run ended (3 Feb only)