Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands is relentless. This bleak look at the current state of Philippines under the leadership of the current President is explored through the satirical lens of a frantic Charlie’s Angels-esque storyline, which is itself examined in the context of a heightened Q&A with that show’s Director.
Calamity and coherence – the show had plenty of one, but nowhere near enough of the other. Some issues were technical. This is an audacious show still finding its feet and sound levels. The actors performed on three sides of the audience, which was a novel approach to utilising the beautiful space at the Arts House.
Unfortunately, this meant that because all the performers wore microphones, speakers invariably were aimed in aurally painful directions depending how you chose to watch the action. I’m also not sure why, particularly since they were mostly on raised platforms, they needed mics in the first place?
Too many lines were lost, with the moments that felt the most intimate and engaging, those brief seconds when a battery pack would fail and the audience drawn in by un-amplified-yet-still-projected voices.
Writer, David Finnigan, and Director, JK Anicoche, wrung some incredibly compelling and unvarnished scenes from the text and staging: After another onslaught of un-gentle sound came a riveting scene with direct quotes from people living under the President – horrendously normalising the actions of his death squads.
Another stunning ensemble piece came at the very end in the final seconds before the blackout. Their smiles lock, rather than fade, as does their choreography. It’s a hardened movement reminiscent of the final scene of the film Cabaret, where what was spectacle has been stripped of flair, reduced to a lifeless act of tribute.
Theatre doesn’t ‘have’ to be anything, let alone beautiful. But, there’s too much mess here for it all to be deliberate and subversive. There’s the roots of a profound and scathing political theatrical work in here somewhere – it just needs some pruning and care for it to see the light, and begin to flourish.
Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands
Arts House – North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 26 February 2020 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 29 February 2020
Information and Bookings: www.asiatopa.com.au
Image: Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands – photo by Bertha Alejandrino Santos
Review: David Collins