|Gross Und Klein (Big and Small) | Sydney Theatre Company|
|Written by Augusta Supple|
|Sunday, 20 November 2011 19:18|
Left – Cate Blanchett . Robert Menzies and Cate Blanchett. Photos – Lisa Tomasetti 2011
A major co-commission between Sydney Theatre Company, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, Barbican London and London 2012 Festival, Théâtre de la Ville and Wiener Festwochen, Gross Und Klein is one of the most anticipated productions of the year. Not much about this production is small. Not only has it a hefty cast of fourteen, and a running time of three hours including interval, but it is destined to tour internationally, with Sydney Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, Cate Blanchett at the helm – it’s a big show. BIG.
But it starts small.
Lotte (Cate Blanchett) is in Morocco. She’s sitting in her apartment, on hiatus from a tour, listening to two amazing philosophers speak on the street below. We hear their conversation through her voice, as she recounts the experience of hearing them speak – but not really absorbing what they’re saying.
But, then again, not so small. Big ideas gathered in a small moment. Big voice, big emotion, in a simple idea. Both at once. Big and Small.
Written by Botho Strauss and first staged in 1978, what we are witnessing is a translation by Martin Crimp (STC subscribers know from the 2009 production of The City) directed by Benedict Andrews.
On Johannes Schutz’ blank, black stage of the Sydney Theatre, rooms appear, shrink and expand. A wire frame. Out of the blackness faces appear and disappear. The world shifts and rows of tables or a bedroom or a window slice the stage. People without name or relation, appear. Speak. Leave.
Lotte’s relationship with her much older writer husband has ended. She is in an emotional purgatory. Like a pinball in a machine, she bounces from one world and one person, to the next – slowly deteriorating as she goes (the opposite of a snowballing effect.) With the whirlwind of interchanges, revolving cameos played by an ensemble of some of Australia’s brilliant actors - Lynette Curran, Anita Hegh, Belinda McClory, Josh McConville, Robert Menzies, Katrina Milosevic, Yalin Ozucelik, Richard Piper, Richard Pyros, Sophie Ross, Chris Ryan, Christopher Stollery and Martin Vaughan keep the show running and revolving as we fluctuate between the expansive and the confined. The Big and the small.
Music by composer/sound designer Max Lyandvert adeptly fluctuates in style and force. The cues of the music seem to be delayed as to not merely treat the music as transition cover – but to set the tone or energy for the proceding scene.
It’s an interesting production – full of ideas and moments of tender reckoning. The cast is good, but it is Blanchett you’re there to see. And she is stunning. Dancing with wild abandon, scratching and shifting her clothes. Damaged and lost and funny and sweet. We love Lotte for her honest yearnings and her bumbling articulation. We admire her for continuing, hopefully and honestly into the great unknown. We laugh at her and with her. We find her joy. We enjoy her simplicity. Yet…
It’s a big performance.
It’s a big show.
A big show full of small moments of the ordinary and the everyday, warped and whittled into a pointy sharp stick poking at the wound of disconnectedness.
Sydney Theatre Company present
Gross Und Klein (Big and Small)
by Botho Strauss | English text by Martin Crimp
Director Benedict Andrews
Venue: Sydney Theatre, Walsh Bay
Dates: 19 November – 23 December, 2011
Tickets: $40 – $130
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