Tuesday, January 23, 2007

REVIEW: The World in Pictures (Project, Dublin)

Like any good shindig, The World in Pictures, spends most of its time in the borderlands of chaos, always threatening to come to a messy collapse in a bit of argy-bargy the roots of which nobody can quite explain. But that, of course, is what makes the latest visit to Dublin by Sheffield troupe, Forced Entertainment, rather more memorable than most nights in the stalls.

After this two-hour lurch through the history of mankind, there is a good chance you will have learned absolutely nothing about the past, except perhaps that it is possible to be a little bit vague about some very important dates and events.

The show opens with the company all ambling on stage, in plain clothes, and offering advice to Jerry Killick, who is going to be charged with opening the night’s proceedings. Left alone again, Killick begins to draw us into a story, his posture and gestures hypnotising us into attention as he carefully weirds us out with unsettling account of a gruesome suicide: our own.

It’s a strange kind of warm up, but its morbid twist leads even more unexpectedly to a extremely raucous tour that sprints (sometimes literarily) from the dawn of time (seen through the lens of Rachel’s Welsh’s 1 Million Years BC and some faux-fur cavemen, captivated by internet porn), via Athens, Rome and the Dark Ages, into the harsh light of the murderous 20th century (with a little help from T Rex’s Twentieth Century boy, played at filling- loosening volume).

By the time Killick returns once more to leave us with another labyrinthine monologue about the nature of mortality and the transience of all things, it is hard to know whether laughter or tears are required, as he carefully explains to us the timeline for the complete obliteration of all traces of our existence from the planet.

“You really are a the-glass-is-half-empty kind of kind of guy, aren’t you?” one of his fellow performers admonishes him.

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