Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Like many critics, I am not in the habit of writing about a work-in-progress. But in certain circumstances, you just get the feeling... why not? Plenty of theatre does not need gloss to make a clear and relevant point. Audiences, from my experience, do not really care about mistakes, perceived or actual - they care about the contest for reality. This can be present in theatre at any stage of development.

Having said that, it's hard to  imagine a work-in-progress feeling more complete than this work from Agrupación Señor Serrano, presented as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale workshops I attended as a participant. We enter an auditorium half-filled with seats and half with cushions on the floor, and are met with a stage that gives off a similar sense of lounging, white sofas lazily strewn together to form a lounge room, with a big screen projecting a video game behind.

At this point, I admit, I expected what followed to be shit. Call it years of seeing theatre stages of lounge rooms, unselfconsciously realised on stage in a replication that shows no acknowledgement to a world outside a middle-class world of leisure. In retrospect, I should have noticed the tiny abnormalities. Why the casual appearance of the actors? Was there not at the same time some tightness in the air? Why the all-too-boys-club behaviour, joking and high-fiving one another in front of a video-game replay of Italy vs Croatia in the World Cup? Why the clashing combination of sterile sofas and home-made cardboard shanty town on the table?