The Temptation of St Anthony

Taking inspiration from Gustave Flaubert’s La Tentation de Saint Antoine, Teatro Cassone’s production successfully teams Flaubert’s narrative with a Teatro performance style. Teatro, from the Spanish for ‘theatre,’ is most commonly connected to the performance company El Teatro Campesino and is a performance style which experiments with multiple performative elements such as dialogue, music, movement, gesture, and spectacular costumes. Teatro is a difficult but effective performance technique.

As a result of the staging choices some of the storyline risks being lost.

The script is packed full of moral guidance and the story is generally told well by this company. However, on occasion the clarity of speech and actions do become a little confusing and I found myself referring to the program for contextual information. That being said, the adaptation of Flaubert’s story by Mattia Mariotti is for the most part clear and well presented. The group keeps the set simple but the costumes are elaborate, some more so than others, but all work well to represent character. The group incorporate painted faces to further their costuming and this works well, drawing out the obscure nature ofTeatro. 

There are times in the production where I think a greater focus on set could have benefited the company. The production is packed full of narrative elements which the audience are required to take in; as a result of the staging choices some of the storyline risks being lost. For example, the fact that Anthony chooses to isolate himself in a desert is not entirely clear.

Some of the performances by the large cast are certainly stronger than others, but the group work well as a whole, tackling the difficult style with plenty of energy and enthusiasm. Rachel Tam as Death leads the narrative very well, her speech being clear and well projected. Adam Ishaque’s performance as Anthony is also consistently good throughout the performance. Michael Shanks adds depth to the production with his piano skills as well as his characterisation. There is some audience participation in this play and although the gentleman that was selected on the day I attended coped well with what was required of him, there was a lot of action happening in his face; it might not be a show for the timid.

Reviews by Lyndsey Bakewell

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Saint Anthony is unsatisfied with corrupt existence and decides that retreating into the middle of the desert is definitively the right solution. Sure. In fact, the desert is not so deserted. A multiform assortment of devilish creatures and heretic theologians think it'd be amiss not to pay a call on the poor Saint. The lyricism of Flaubert's words, the magic of clowning and the ludicrousness of cheap puppets come together for a performance not to be forgotten.

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