What is human nature? What is restricted in front of others and in front of the self? How can the subconscious be liberated?
Artaud’s contribution to the Theatre of Cruelty aims to connect the performer and the audience while exploring the human subconscious on stage. His radio play To Have Done With The Judgement Of God has now been adapted by Fear No Colours Theatre Company with an innovative and daring approach, which gives particular focus to the bond between nature and mankind.
Directed by Julia Midtgard and designed by Chris Duffy, the ensemble of six revives To Have Done With The Judgement Of God as a dynamic, excessive and though-provoking blend of spoken word, choreography and intimate encounters between performer and spectator.
In the powerful beginning, two female performers (Tingting Liu and Rhiannon Bird) take over the dark stage with flashlights in hand, their whispered words spoken in a robotic-like symphony. The mystical and surreal atmosphere grows upon the ‘birth’ of the human men (Andrew Davies, Findlay Duff, Kristupas Liubinas and Harry Pearce), who emerge from a plastic tent serving as the motherly womb. From this moment onwards, the division of roles is clear: the two women represent Mother Nature, whereas the men stand for the human race itself. They are nurtured by Liu and Bird, who support them separately, then wash and dress them in suits.
The intensity of their delivery and physicality gradually builds as time passes. Fear No Colours have decided to focus on the alienation of mankind from nature, its exploitation and destruction, as well as the decay of civilisation and humanity. In a radical dance performance, Liu and Bird are repetitively isolated from each other while also rendered defenceless against human greed, hunger and desire. Everything on stage culminates in an ecstasy of animalistic instincts, separating mankind and Mother Nature from each other and themselves.
The performers invite – almost pull – the audience into the dystopian scenario on stage. Ritual chanting, repetitive mantras and stunning phrases of choreography merge with desperate cries and screams. There is also the echoed sound of words and an outstanding connectedness of the ensemble, who breathe as one body before they scatter again into individual parts. However, the precision of their shared movement is sometimes found lacking due to rushed and overwhelming transitions.
To Have Done With The Judgement Of God is an organised tohubohu. It offers questions instead of answers and is a genuinely touching experience. Artaud’s legacy of modern performance-making is freed of dust in this fresh and alive adaptation.
To Have Done With The Judgement Of The Gods is playing at 20:15 at C too until the 27th of August. For more information and tickets, see here.
Photo Credit: Aike Jansen