Just moments after stepping out of Bunker Theatre, it was obvious this venue will keep drawing me back. Underground, raw and quirky, tailoring its space to each show coming in, making theatregoing an immersive experience. This theatre is here to stay, and definitely a new favourite. And what a way to start a new obsession with this building with Max Gill’s inventive new version of Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde.
In times where gender identity and rights dominate both politics and the arts, it seems pressing that a non-gender specific play about how we deal with love and desire takes the stage.
Using four actors for various parts and scenes, anything can happen during the performance – as the wheel of fortune spins, a random pick of actors determines how a scene will be played. This frees the play in such a wonderful way. You sit almost electrified in your seat. And though we can feel a hint of gender in the way certain parts have been written, the random choice of actors liberates it and seems so natural we are left with the universal experience of love and sex; regardless of gender, sexuality or heritage.
As the actors are prepared to play any part when the wheel spins, everything seems fresh and exciting, and you can’t help wonder how they, and Gill, have managed to pull it off. Each scene is vibrant, moving, and never for a moment boring. With Gill’s master direction, it all flows along despite the uncertainty of who will play what.
The company of actors superbly morph from one character to the next with a balance between the nerving and comedic. With Jack Weir’s sharp lighting and Nathan Klein’s urgent sound and composition, the panic rises as they move from one sexual experience to the next. Leemore Marrett Jr, Lauren Samuels, Alex Vlahos, and Amanda Wilkin all work off each other and create a fascinating kaleidoscope of lovers and the unloved; though the cruelty of the wheel left us waiting for a performance from Marrett Jr all the way to the very end.
This game of coincidence makes this performance so inventive, so ingenious in its simplicity, and yet so complex in the work that lies behind it. You can’t help but admire how they managed to stitch the whole thing together. And with The Bunker Theatre transformed this is an experience that will have you crawling back for more.
La Ronde is playing at the Bunker until 11 March. For more information and tickets, click here.