THE SECRET OF Q
by Ramses Graus, Monique Corvers and Don Duyns,
Unicorn Theatre 147 Tooley Street Southwark SE1 2HZ To 29 May 2014.
11am & 2pm.
Runs 55min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7645 0560.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 May.
It’s not just what they do, it’s the way that they do it.
On a table, neat lines of model buildings stand obediently in rows facing a ‘teacher building’, larger than the others, at one end. Here, city ruler Q maintains control through a creation somewhere between a large worm and a vacuum-cleaner, which searches apartment blocks and streets for any sign of disorder, and sweeps it away.
So far, so apparently Nineteen Eighty Four. But Ramses Graus takes a different approach from George Orwell in the piece, for 7+, he conceived and co-wrote for Utrecht young people’s company Het Filiaal. It is not political power that began ruler Q’s regime, but the accident that killed his son.
One way, Het Geheim van Q is a warning about taking Health and Safety to extremes (some of the things Q bans did lead to injury or death). More generally, it shows how a restrictive society can come about incrementally – every step more or less justifiable, the overall outcome oppressive.
The population rise at 8am, going to bed by 9pm after watching the standard TV programme of goldfish swimming in a bowl. Worse, the greyness of the weather as forecast, the buildings and existence in the city is matched by the tepid compliance of the citizens – who, like their leader, are identified only by a letter. Till a granddad breaks-out and leads his family on a dangerous mission to stop the machine that threatens them in the name of keeping them safe.
All this is told (in English) by Graus and fellow performer Gabby Bakker manipulating a camera which makes models appear life size as it explores close-up, magnifying the table-top world’s tower-blocks and model cars into an apparent city. Characters are shown knee-down, represented by model clothing and footwear worn on fingers, Q’s rapacious machine for keeping order by tubing, with eye-like headlights – worn on the arm, but becoming monstrous when projected through the camera’s eye.
The model reality and the projected magnification are simultaneously in view, giving, despite occasional slow moments setting-up a scene, a fascinating awareness of the fictional creation as the story moves from everyday life to an action-filled climax.
Performers: Ramses Graus, Gabby Bakker.
Director: Moniques Corvers.
Designer: Joris van Oosterwijk.
Lighting: Laurens Schoonheim.
Sound/Music: Gábor Tarján.
Costume: Joost van Wijmen.