With a vision of contemporary life viewed through the broken prism of Greek tragedy and commedia dell’arte, this beguiling theatre piece is a brief but dizzy ride that will stay with you for hours afterwards, even if you don’t quite know why.
As the final curtain on a community centre falls as it awaits destruction, a group of amateur thesps present a version of Aeschelus’ Agamemnon that brings the district together. Meanwhile, a number of other stories come together: amongst them a young, timid man having second thoughts about the demolition company he works for, an upstanding woman with a skeleton in her closet, and a cleaner who captures the art of Marcel Marceau and frustration of Frank Spencer from Some Mothers do ‘Ave ‘Em.
With commedia dell-arte painted faces, the brilliant cast of eight give a number of different performances, some funny, some poignant, with varying accents and styles, and with a fantastic physicality timed to perfection. Writer/director Dean Poulter has created a complex and daring work that questions contemporary morality in the world and, if appearing confused in places, holds up as a hypnotic piece of theatre. With stories cut into one another, we’re dislocated, left to pick together the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle show.
Like the William Basinski album after which the show is named – in which Basinski’s original analogue magnetic tape recording was destroyed forever in its digital transfer - the modern overwrites the ancient in Poulter’s play. Basinski claimed he finished the album’s music, which is heard throughout the play, on the day of the September 11th attacks, and there’s a similar recurring sense of collective loss of innocence found in the heart of the play’s events as on that day. A contemplative, melancholic play, but well worth a look for those wanting something different.