Listen, You Can Hear the Sound of No Hands Clapping
- Gareth K Vile
- 26 August 2019
Chaotic mash-up in existential mode
From its Zen-inspired title, through the proud boast of avant-garde style in the blurb, to the mish-mash of familiar historical characters on stage, Ponder Theatre are refusing the obvious and easy. Using Paradise Lost as a foundation, it rambles around big issues, from the purpose of life, the absence or presence of God, the relationship between art and artist and the overwhelming history that overshadows all art, denying resolutions and building on fragments of earlier texts.
The ensemble cast are enthusiastic, but struggle to match the grandeur of the language. The heavy texts are juxtaposed, attacking each other and lending the script the disorder of a mash-up and the density of epic poetry. Meanings are lost and recovered, the play grinds its characters down and while the furious absurdism becomes evident in the final scene, the ambitions are too great to be sustained by the dramaturgy. Recreating famous names of the canon presents a series of problems, not least their recognisability, and the script is too heavy to offer coherence.
Although Ponder are clearly willing to face up to the problems of the past, and are using the power of the canon to clear a path, this production stumbles against its intentions and lacks a necessary clarity.
theSpace on North Bridge, run ended.