Domini Public – National Theatre, Square2,Friday 23rd July 2010 – Review

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It’s with great pleasure I have my first guest writer for the Theatre Thoughts Blog – Whoohay!!

Kevin and I met via our course at Rose Bruford College and have shared many a conversation and laugh about theatrical things. (especially on whether Ibsen was an Aquarius 😉 – ask us when you see us)

Without further ado here is Kevin’s review of Domini Public:

Were you born in London, were you born abroad… simple questions, not hard to answer and not that moral, but how would you react to being honest about how much you earn, whether you thought you were clever than the average person, if you were creative? How about the really personal stuff, the embarrassing information, the things that would influence how others see you? Would you lie?

Spanish theatre maker Roger Bernat brought his latest and most ambitious production to the space outside the National Theatre where those that bought tickets were both audience and performer. On arriving at the venue, you were given in exchange for some form of id, a pair of wireless earphones (the sort you may have at a silent disco), the play begins and you are guided through the space. Two signs orientate you on says ‘left’ the other ‘right’.

You are asked a series of question; if you were born in London go left, if you were born abroad go right, if you were born in England but outside London stand in the middle, if you know your teams hymn raise your fist, if you ever fell in love with someone you wouldn’t have expected to hold you hand on your heart. You buy into the concept, as an audience member, you want the production to succeed, you want it to be good, so you feel you have to comply with the instructions. If you lie, you may ruin the production.

So, then the questions start to get more personal and works on your petty prejudices; If you have ever been suspicious of an Arab looking man move left, If you feel looking good can help social cohesion raise your hand, if you own property that you rent out move right. Slowly you see factions starting to appear, who are the people that earn the most? Who are the people that are concerned about how they look? Who are religious? Who have children? Then the performance begins.

By seemingly arbitrary questions the group are divided into groups of characters and provided with props and costume and through instructions in the headphones the story of abuse, freedom, capture, hope, despair, rape and genocide is played out. The impact of this play is in its questioning of the conventions of theatre making. We are not actors, but when we raise a gun to someone’s head we are acting. As observers of the action, we are audience, but at a certain part of the play we are asked to look away and by ‘not observing’ we read a new even stronger meaning into what we are not seeing.

Is this theatre? Yes, definitely. Is this a psychology exercise? Yes, probably. Did this fit in my ‘I go to see theatre and hope that I am a different person when I come out to the person that went in’? Absolutely!

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