An unusual menagerie of consequential storytelling.
Dialektikon follows Miranda, played by Mary Nyambura, a young girl defenceless and naive in a cruel world full of unknowns. Through the use of movement, mask work and shadow puppets, Ex Nihilo Theatre Group explore the sins within us since the biblical beginning of time. As one story bleeds, rather bashfully, into another; we see a reflection of the unnecessary waste we are projecting upon the Earth. Unfortunately, there is no sense of emotional empathy for this destruction which the concept rightfully deserves. Topics such as climate change, privileged ignorance and gluttony are scratched upon, but never delved into on an effective enough level to connect with us and change us, which is one of the highest purposes for theatre, according to many a theatre-maker.
Perhaps the performers understand the political relevance on a higher level, but this doesn’t translate into an important story with relevance or captivating energy. Benjamin Victor, who plays ‘The Servant’, is the exception with moments of real buzz and connection with the audience, but this is not consistent. Similarly, Sabina Cameron, playing the role of Ayida Wedo, has great physicality and serves her purpose as a storyteller, connecting with the stakes, but she is let down by the lack of clarity within the piece written by Jacky Ivimy.
The entrancing music from Stanley Ohios and Kate Luxmoore is creative and keeps the piece from grinding to a lull. Perhaps this is exactly what Ivimy and Adébayo Bolaji, the Director, intend: a Brechtian verfremdungseffekt or distancing in order for us to really observe the destruction we are causing. Nonetheless, the dry, flat, repetitive intonations from Nyambura are unengaging and in no way attempt to make the action about changing and affecting the other members of the cast, which is essentially what theatre and real life is. Admittedly, the obscurity of the story is hard to construct anything real or vaguely resembling of the world we live in. However, lighting designer; Jonathan Samuels and designer; Carl Robertshaw, create the closest thing to this.
Rhys Anderson’s philosopher character fails to resonate as a real figure with a stern and one-dimensional scowl or concerned emotional state. Robert Lightfoot’s buddha-enthusiast character, on the other hand, is a lot easier to connect to with his evolving physicality and actions. Unfortunately, the showcase of creative storytelling devices such as the ritualistic mask and shadow puppetry can feel jarring to the story.
As a piece of original storytelling and some uncommon skills not used that often in modern theatre, Dialektikon is worth a watch, however the story is limited, resulting in, what I can imagine, a psychedelic experience to be like.
Dialektikon is playing The Park Theatre until 29 December. For more information and tickets, click here.