Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 18. Day 139. Purgatorio. Review. Anywhere Theatre Festival

 Perhaps it's the Catholic upbringing. Perhaps it's the past 24 hours living with gastro and thinking I might end up in hell, but for some reason the concept of Purgatory is endlessly fascinating. Purgatory is the place where souls "undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven". It is the ultimate celestial twilight zone where the "purifying fires" cleanse souls. But how does that work? How are those souls cleansed and who does the cleansing? Purgatorio explores that concept with jaw-dropping, spine tingling imagination and daring. The degree to which piece of theatre goes out on a limb starts before you enter the theatre (or perhaps arena is a better term because it's like entering a Colosseum).  As you are arrived you are asked "do you want to sit with the person you are here with?" and possibly a supplementary question "Are you okay
to climb down a ladder?' Depending on your answer to those questions, you will find yourself allocated to either the Man or the Women seats. The two seat tiers are at opposite ends of the performance space, an semi opaque black gauze screen between the two ends. The woman (Freya Pragt) and the man (Jason Cavanagh) occupy and end each. Only when the lighting and proximity to the screen allow do you see the second performer (The lighting design of this piece is its third star). Revealing what has these two in their private cell awaiting the possibility of eternal redemption would be to the ultimate spoiler. But it is sufficient to say Ariel Dorfman's script is as tight as it is intriguing. This play takes the audience (tragically small tonight) on a wild journey locked in an endless circle which makes you question whether real forgiveness and redemption is actually possible or even desirable for some seriously flawed people - and who should make that decision. This is extraordinarily powerful theatre that is confronting and thought provoking.  You'll condemn yourself to an eternal circle of remorse if you miss the tragically short season.

Purgatorio by Ariel Dorfman Presented by 5pound theatre will play at  Room to Play Indepednant Theatre at the paddington Substation only until Saturday. Tickets are available from the Anywhere Festival website

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