Walking in to a performance space that smells slightly of garbage never bodes well. Upon closer inspection though, it’s actually quite fitting for a story that introduces our antagonist atop a pyramid of plastic waste, floating in the middle of the ocean. Our protagonist joins him later, and IS him later, or was him...
La Rejectamenta smacks of a very personal journey of self realisation for writer/performer Stuart Orr. The story deals with La Rejectamenta (Queen of the Eternal Plastic Isle), and her torturous relationship with his/her other self, Herman. The audience discovers La Rejectamenta/Herman alone, hung over and covered in blood at the outset of the show and bears witness over the next hour and a half to a journey through a seedy, inescapable Underworld. As Herman searches for the love he abused and lost, in the form of the never seen Jasmine, multiple characters cross his path with intentions to either help, or hinder. At the end of the day though, it really is Herman’s free will which will determine the outcome.
Stuart Orr’s performance in La Rejectamenta is brave, considered and committed. It is noted in the programme that Stuart trained extensively in the Aerial Tissu work that is incorporated into the performance, and it shows. His skill is obvious, and the inclusion of this element adds another level to the experience.
The concept for the production is interesting and engaging but unfortunately the script seems a little convoluted at times which muddies the story. Some of the gear changes in the piece are unclear and this leads to confusion about where, who and what is happening...and when you’re puttering around in the already treacherous terrain of the Underworld, this can cause problems. There are also multiple characters who inhabit the story and although Orr’s ability to dramatically differentiate between them is unquestioned, the function of some of them is unclear. With so much going on at different levels, whilst playing in both heightened and naturalistic states, the numerous characters became lost at times...and there’s the potential for an audience to get lost as well.
The only other quibble was in regards to the Aerial Tissu. It is undoubtedly a beautiful element of the production and Orr does some breathtaking work on it, but it doesn’t meld with the story as maybe it should. It seems to function outside the piece, rather than lead the story forward. That observation aside though, watching Orr perform with it is a definite highlight.
With an evocative live music soundscape supplied by James Annand throughout the show and an unobtrusive and effective set design by Tanja Beer, La Rejectamenta is directed by Ingrid Voorendt and Daniel Koerner, and offers up some moments of heart breaking clarity. There is always an admiration for any artist who creates their own work, and then tirelessly and passionately dedicates themself to sharing it with an audience...even if they are inviting you into the Underworld with them.
La Mama presents
Written and performed by Stuart Orr
Directed by Ingrid Voorendt and Daniel Koerner
Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street Carlton
Dates: 19 – 31 July 2011
Times: Tues, Wed and Sun 6:30pm, Fri and Sat 8pm
Tickets: $25 Full, $15 concession