Opening to an enthusiastic crowd, it was difficult not to marvel at the novelty of The Omega Quest. All manner of lighting tricks, cultural references, and visual gags are brought together beautifully by some very talented puppeteers in this very modern incarnation of a three hundred year old storytelling tradition.
Borrowing its style from the seventeenth century Japanese Banruku tradition, and its story from the twentieth century American space epic tradition, The Omega Quest is novel, but it's more than a novelty.
The promotional material tells us that the main character is the last man in the universe, though you wouldn't know that from watching, as the main action of the play is void of human language and it really isn't that critical as backstory.
After an initial introduction – in Japanese – in which we see the destruction of Earth, we encounter this 'last man', bedecked in astronaut garb and hovering like a Buddha above the stage. He is set upon by a cute fluffy ball which he at first befriends and then destroys. Before long he's running from danger and finds a female similarly clothed and in reviving her he finds a mate and continues on his way with a slew of adventures and misadventures.
The plot may sound thin and familiar, but the show is by no means shallow. There is a depth of feeling in the action, and the use of lights is inspired and presents more than most lighting plots manage.
Though the promotional material identifies Francis McMahon as the star of the show, the credit for the success of this very experimental work must go to the puppeteers, who not only operate his legs and equipment, but also present many of the characters he and his lady friend encounter along the way. Their energy makes this show.
The Omega Quest breaks its story down to its purest form, presenting the most fundamental aspects of narrative – character and plot – without the pith of language. It is refreshing to see a story presented in this way, though the jury's still out on just how flexible the form can be. Revolt should be commended for having the guts to stage this imaginative, engaging, and original work.
Revolt Productions presents
The Omega Quest
by Tim Mager
Directed by Tim Mager
Venue: Revolt Main room | 12 Elizabeth St, Kensington
Dates: August 14 – 19, 2012
Tickets: $28 – $18