|La Putyka | Sydney Festival|
|Written by Augusta Supple|
|Sunday, 15 January 2012 22:34|
Photo – Martin Faltus
As we file into the theatre we barely notice the creatures slumped on stage as they silently stare or marvel at the foam rimmed beer glasses in their hands. They look as though they’ve been disturbed by a Tim Burton film – or had a vicious fight with a drunk make-up artist. Everything looks a bit well-worn and well-lived. There’s a band tucked up in the corner – a cluster of stripe-legged misfits at a table in front – and two slumped figures sleeping doubled over on a long table.
It’s closing time inside this Czech pub – and the tired publican is trying to, but failing to close up. It appears that we have arrived right on closing time and he is reluctant to host us… and who can blame him, he’s surrounded by the semi-conscious and insatiable. Before long, he is handing out beer and the sense of sinister happenings melts into silliness – after all, this is circus.
Comprising of a live band, a triumvirate of puppeteers, sexy dancers, acrobats and the occasional clown – this is not your usual contemporary circus experience. Instead it is a dark and grubby style of performance. Nothing slick or sensational here – undeniably grotty, ugly, tired- and justifiably so – after all this is a Czech pub, is it not?
The premise is expanded – drinking games and tricks abound and we are confronted with a string of characters – or character moments – most without speech or dialogue, but accompanied with some earthy, Czech-grunge-folk electronica.
This is a difficult splice between performance mode – as theatre though there are moments of story, moments of surprise, there lacks meat to the matter – it is without the hallmarks of theatre: no character transformation, no message or lesson, no journey. As circus, it lacks the energy or the feats of fearlessness. Additionally the inbuilt tension of “if this fails or if they can’t pull this off, it will be physically horrible” – which is created through a few false starts or the occasional fumble is also missing. All tricks, all acts are pulled off without any tension within the act itself.
For some this will be a delightful and refreshing departure from the usual slick and glossy, sexy, glamorous circus shows doing the circuit. For others it will be a little bit unsuspenseful and too eclectic in its presentation. For me, I failed to connect with the festival blurb citing it as “an intoxicating fairy tale” and saw it more of a hungover showcase of mismatching ideas.
2012 Sydney Festival
Venue: Riverside Theatres, Parramatta
Dates: January 13 – 18, 2012
Tickets: $50 – $45
Bookings: 1300 668 812 | www.sydneyfestival.org.au