SONG OF RIOTS
by Lucy Maycock.
The North Wall South Parade OX2 7JN To 18 April 2015.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 01865 319450.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 April.
The individual and the city given tragic perspective.
Song of the Goat isn’t the first significant theatre group to have come from Wroclaw. The Polish city, set to be European Capital of Culture next year and host the Theatre Olympics, was home to Jerzy Grotowski’s celebrated Theatre Laboratory in the late 1960s.
They, like Song of the Goat, emphasised actor training, though the remit’s wider with the present company, set-up in 1996 and working internationally. Their name refers to Tragedy, which ancient Greece derived from words meaning ‘goat song’.
This piece has been developed with Oxford’s enterprising North Wall Arts Centre and Awake Projects. It has plenty of tragic potential, and is, like classical Greek Tragedy, at once specific and cosmic. There are explosive consequences when a young man from the social wilderness meets a traditional folk-tale character, the young prince who comes of age by venturing beyond the physically and emotionally safe palace of his happy youth into the entangled forest representing life’s various complexities.
In a variation on the Oedipal father/son conflict, their adventures in various skin trades of the city interplay with rejections of maternal protectiveness In the most shocking scene the mothers re-appear seated as sex-workers available for purchase along with the drugs happily blown around the stage and inhaled as clouds of dust.
The tragedy is social; the prince can find his way back to his palace, but young Lucasz has no way out but destruction. It could seem schematic, except that it remains allusive and fragmentary – the best parts are the most theatrical, often invoking William Blake, a poet of the mystery of nature, who saw an angel in a tree, yet had his home in Lambeth and wrote of things he saw around him. Several Blake poems are set to music, sung by the show’s angel in a tree, high above the stage, behind a great gauze screen, complete with ’cello.
But the production’s most expressive aspect is the rhythmic pulse incorporating voice, music and physical energy – including the motif of male struggle established at the start – in a stage unity which provides specific events with wider mythic significance.
Princess: Hanna Björk.
Prince: Jason Callender.
Lucasz: Christopher Finnegan.
Magda: Anna Krotoska,
King: Oliviero Papi.
Wildman: Marcin Rudy.
Queen: Maria Sendow.
Directors: Christopher Sivertsen, Lucy Maycock.
Designer: Alex Berry.
Lighting: Maria Klochkova.
Music: Maria Sendow, Hanna Björk.
Projections: Matt Smith forVIDEOfeet.