There is no fourth wall here. We’re all in the same room and it’s oppressive, guilt-ridden and hilarious. When you arrive to the upstairs studio space, you are provided with a password. Remember this, because you’ll need it to get past the doorman and into Die Akademie for the presentation by Red Peter, recounting his former life as an ape.
The studio has become Kabaret, an underground space for academics and interested parties to gather, away from the watchful eye of government censors, and share discoveries, ideas and debate.
Boris Granolic, as Red Peter, pulls you further into the illusion. His commitment to the role of ape-turned-academic is unwavering. He does not play for an emotion, or try to force his audience to any particular position. He simply presents the work and gives you permission to be moved by it.
The creative team (of Granolic and Director Gabriella Rose-Carter) have created a piece of carefully constructed, but totally natural theatre. As Red Peter moves through the audience, between a number of ‘performing spaces’, and interacts with individual audience members, we are drawn further into the illusion.
Without concern for sight lines, facing front or ‘performing’, Granolic is able to embody the character completely. When he faces away from us, he simply acts with his back. The depth of feeling conveyed through the back of this man’s tuxedo is palpable.
The staging and direction is clever and engaging. It makes good use of the space, beautifully designed by Mara Kapsis, without feeling forced or contrived. In fact, the overriding feeling here is that nothing has been forced. It is just one man telling a story to a group of interested people.
By drawing us into the action, and making us part of the story, Granolic and Rose-Carter leave us unable to place ourselves anywhere but well inside the story and themes of the piece.
The gentle touch with which this piece has been staged, directed and performed allows the audience to be engaged, enveloped and moved. It’s a piece that continues to ring through your mind for days after you have left the performance.
Q44 Theatre Company, 1st Floor – 550 Swan St, Burnley
Season continues to 30 November 2014
For more information, visit: www.q44.com.au for details.
Image: Boris Granolic as Red Peter – courtesy of Q44 Theatre Company