‘3 Seeds’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by June 18, 2014

 

‘3 Seeds’ is a triptych of absurdist, psychological plays by Sudanese born playwright and poet, Afeif Ismail (Abdelrazig). Afeif has been in Australia for more than a decade, and he continues to write; his work has been short-listed for a ‘Writer of Courage’ Award and he gained a National Playwright’s bursary. A couple of years ago, one of Afeif’s works was nominated for ‘Best Children’s Book of the Year’, proving that his writing skills are eminent and varied.

Afeif arrived with no knowledge of English from a poor, under-educated country, but believe me, his writing is highly intelligent, rich and sophisticated.

This work has been transcreated (translated and recreated) from Arabic by popular WA writer, Vivienne Glance (who recently gained her PhD from UWA) in conjunction with the author, to ensure the retention of the cultural richness.

This 85-minute (with brief interval) production from Always Working Artists can be seen at The Blue Room Main Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge daily at 7.00 pm until 5th July.

 

‘In Godot’s Labyrinth’.

      In the corner sits the ‘mother of time’ (Janice Lim) knitting a never-ending umbilical cord – a theme that carries through all of the plays. At her feet lies a newly delivered child (Violette Ayad). In one of the numerous clever symbolisms, the mother and child create a live representation of Michelangelo’s painting, ‘Creation of Adam’.

      The knitter tells us that she was ‘there when ……..’, there then follows numerous important occasions and tragic events from world history.

      The stage goes dark, a whirring noise is heard and a flashing spaceship descends (creators Patrick Howe, Ian Tregonning, Anthony Watts). A spaceman (Kevin Mararo Wangai – amazingly talented) is lying on the ground; he rises and appears to float in the gravity free atmosphere. In a powerful booming voice, he describes the universe’s dimensions. He continues touchingly, showing how he represents the many different people of the world, from the strong handsome desert dwellers to the maimed and poor.

      In this almost poetic, thought provoking piece, we meet Beckett and possibly even Godot himself.

‘Why Rats Live Under Our Roof’, is an African street theatre treat.

       Along similar lines to the western pantomime, Monkey (Verity Softly – fantastic) is the Master of Ceremonies. In a white linen ensemble, with shirt, tie and suit brightly painted on the cloth (designer, Cherie Hewson), Monkey tells a few corny jokes and warms up the audience before introducing the star of the household, smooth talking and pun quoting Rat (Brianna Williams – hilarious).

      Monkey tells us about the loving couple living in the house, who are about to have their first child. Rat, wielding a flick knife, offers the heavily pregnant mother (Michelle Endersbee) some help in the delivery. The father (Kevin Mararo Wangai) just wants the baby (Violette Ayad) to be delivered as soon as possible and so agrees to Rat’s outrageous demands. What will the consequences be?

After the interval, the audience return to the theatre to find two large pods / eggs suspended from the ceiling.

‘One seed’

      From one egg climbs a female (Violette Ayad – an exciting new acting talent) dressed in a red bathing costume – the ovum. From the other, descends a male (Paul Grabovac) in blue – the sperm. The two lie down inside a capsule and fertilise. With a simulated view of a microscope slide, coupled with clever hand puppetry, we see the seed’s meiosis taking place, before the cells move on to the mitosis stage. One wonders, which actually came first, the human or the seed?

    The play moves on through the birth, life and finally onto death.

    This powerful play has no dialogue, but again with lucid symbolism expresses many emotions and shrewdly hints at life throughout the universe.

 

Joe Lui provides the soundscape and melody, with additional music by Rabie Abdelmajed.

Jeremy Rice, the well-respected WA director, who now lives in Melbourne, has returned to Perth bringing a wealth of new ideas that have given this play a freshness and exhilaration. The three plays are very different genres, but he has managed to convey the depth of the script and, with the terrific cast, given us a clear demonstration of how complex, unfair, varied and arousing the world is.

It is unusual to find a playwright that can write so lucidly and with such a quality in several genres. This is the kind of show that one can see several times and still see new slants in the symbolism and quirky action. Powerfully directed and splendidly acted, most enjoyable.