It’s always difficult writing a review for a show you don’t particularly connect with; one always wonders whether someone else would have been moved by the piece or inspired to critique it differently – of course they would. However, let’s begin at the beginning.
To use their own words: Heartbeast is
a not-for-profit theatre organisation that offers artists the opportunity to investigate and explore their performance philosophy and skills of artistry through an aesthetic prism that meshes heightened theatricality with the organic performance of archetypal, contemporary, local and world stories.
It’s a mouthful, but I think Heartbeast’s performance of Beauty Is Difficult at the Trinity Church Hall was true to this manifesto.
Trinity Church Hall in the Valley is a beautiful, cavernous and engaging performance space, and punters were received with enthusiasm. A program thrust in hand, we were asked to “back a winner” by placing our name under the character that we thought was destined to die at the finish. I was interested; this sounded interactive. Fun! So I bought a delicious hot chocolate and settled in for a good one.
Earning my gold star as a theatre-goer, I’d investigated the premise of the show and was excited to meet its remarkable line-up of characters; Hedda Gabler (Sherri Smith), Emma Bovary (Karen Dinsdale), Anna Karenina (Anna O’Hara), Phedre (Adrienne Costello) and Danni (Judith Turnbull), based on the character of Mrs Danvers from Rebecca (1938). C’est formidable, I thought!
These women led a cast of eight actors that meet in a ballroom, somewhere in the after-life. Controlled by a puppet master, they use their beauty and feminine wiles to survive the strange experience (I did wonder how someone could die if they were already dead, but I let it go).
Michael Beh, artistic director of Heartbeast and director/creator/costume designer of Beauty is Difficult writes in his notes that his show does, “not tell the story of each of the original texts but dips into them like a stone skipping across the water, allowing the audience to barrack for their favourite femme fatale.”
Mr Beh sets out to achieve a great deal in his 75 minute work (no interval) and on reflection, I think this is the problem. Continue reading Review: Beauty Is Difficult – Heartbeast Vicious Theatre Ensemble at Trinity Church Hall