While one can see the ideas behind this rambling epic – several centuries of American expansion and self-destruction – it certainly suffers from overkill.
Ambition and greed are at odds from the start. Two brothers named Love and Wrestling, fight for control of the New World. These mythic figures represent creation and destruction, at war with each other through time immemorial. Nowhere is the battle better portrayed than in the land that becomes America. Hope and despair at constant odds.
The music is soulful and the cast are excellent singers but the music is intermittent compared to the drawn out narrative.
Covering four centuries of American expansion and destruction is a big ask. The overarching point seeming to be how can people who started with such optimism and so many opportunities mess things up so much? Las Vegas becomes the symbol of decadence. The neon mirage built on desert sand which devours and spits out those who dare to dream big dreams.
That this is a workshop endeavour is blatantly obvious. This is the modus operandi of the TEAM, a company dedicated to, in the words of the programme, "create new work that examines the experience of living in America today". A New York troupe, TEAM is the acronym for Theatre of the Emerging American Moment.
There are two tales interwoven in this work. The first is set in Amsterdam in 1624 when two fourteen year olds meet at the dock before embarking on a voyage to the New World. Striking out for riches unknown they form a partnership.
Suddenly we are transported to present day Las Vegas where properties are in foreclosure and a giant casino called the Ark has stalled in development, causing staff lay-offs. The second pairing is one of those affected by this reversal of circumstance, Joan, who takes up with a drifter cowboy Chris. He bemoans the fact that the city is overtaking the desert and yearns to take off for open space. She, on the other hand, pines for the small town that she grew up in and loved which has changed so dramatically.
Back to Joris and Catalina, Dutch American pioneers, changing their names over the years as they attempt new lives and careers in order to survive and succeed. Finally they settle in the Nevada desert, becoming the two gaming tycoons responsible for the folly of the Ark.
Thus the two stories collide in Las Vegas of today and having hammered home the point that capitalism is poison, we are left pretty much with nowhere to go.
When Catalina finally flees the city she encounters a Dutch pioneer woman (presumably an incantation of her optimistic self four centuries ago) you realise that the cycle continues. From this critic's point of view relentlessly.
The TEAM presents
by The TEAM in collaboration with Heather Christian and Sarah Gancher | music Heather Christian
Directed by Rachel Chavkin
Venue: Heather Ledger Theatre | State Theatre WA
Dates: 22 February – 2 March 2013
Tickets: $74.50 - $25.00