Broadway Baby

To Have Done With The Judgement Of Artaud. Where to begin? It's hard to put into words what I experienced between 11pm and midnight watching this incredible production. The four performers sit with and stand among the audience, as the show begins with a fusion of sounds - vocal mutters, murmurings and strange noises. The cynic in me starts to worry this might be another load of arty faff, but there's something about their delivery that makes me trust what these performers are doing.

The production is based on Antoinin Artaud's last radio play 'To Have Done With The Judgement Of God', a play banned in 1947 for its strong obscene anti-American and anti-Catholic statements. If like me, you cannot claim to have much knowledge of Artaud's work, there is still so much to be gained from this production.

The movement sequences are startlingly original. The performers twitch and undulate, as if consumed with a self-loathing of their bodies. Indeed, one of the recurring verbal references is “the never tiring presence of my body“. The portrayal is of a numb servitude, political obsession and devotion. “We must begin production“, the performers say. The human body is not ideally suited to our needs. It is weak, it tires, it shits. Choose not to shit, or choose to live. One performer wrestles with the choice, as she contorts and mutters, and we watch - gripped at once by her allusive intensity, wanting to understand or gain some insight into her condition.

To Have Done With The Judgement Of Artaud is just as innovative, if not more so, in its use of sound to help create the appropriate atmosphere. At times the sound effects are so consuming, it is hard to distinguish their origins. Which sounds are the performers making? Which from the overhead speakers? What about those hand-held radios? At one point, the performers leave the stage. There is nothing, but the sudden, violent bursts of sound - behind the curtain, overhead, all around you. The next moment, one of them has moved so silently, you only now notice they're right beside you and have started muttering again.

It sounds weird and overwhelming I know, and it is, but it is always involving. This is largely due to standout performances from Omar Shahryar and Joanna Young. Where Omar casts his sparkling gaze towards all corners of the audience, Joanna's committed intensity and subtle delivery is so emotionally engaging I had to remind myself to keep breathing.

There is nothing else like this, this good, at the Fringe. I only wish it would continue beyond the end of this week, so I could watch it again and again, as a reminder of why theatre inspires me.


Venue 45. 6-11 August. 23:00 (45mins)

The Blurb

Banned in 1948 before being broadcast, Artaud's final radio work 'To Have Done with the Judgment of God' has inspired four artists to create a new interpretation of the extreme.

Call Sheet

Production Company
Base Theatre
Director
Base Theatre


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