Above Sister Ursuline on the cello and performer Gerry Sont. Featured image performer Gerry Sont.
This intense, strange, challenging, at times, confronting but wild and wonderful production by Theatre Excentrique is the Australian premier of Garcia’s fast paced play that criticises and analyses society and its greedy norms and expectations. It is chance to see an example of Garcia’s powerful, political and at times violent , controversial and contentious style.
The premise of Garcia’s provocative play, here translated by William Gregory, is that, having withdrawn his life savings, a lone dissolute father who has reached rock bottom (played by Gerry Sont) has devised a master plan to educate his two young sons , so they ‘splash the cash’ in style doing something mad : after discussion with his sons ( who actually want to go to Disneyland Paris) he develops a plan – at night, to break into the Prado Museum to see Goya’s black paintings ( Los Caprichos) while eating chorizo, drinking scotch and sniffing coke.
As well, they fly in a trendy celebrity philosopher from Germany as their guide to further improve their education. Much is made of the commercialism of Disneyland and there are great discussions about combating depression, economics, the meaning of life, economic versus emotional stability, the sacred versus the banal , our reason for existence and the power of love, all blurring the barriers of dreams and reality.
The title of the play is repeated several times as conversation and there is at times some strong language.
The minimalist set (as designed by Clarisse Ambroselli and Anna Jahjah) is a black floor and wall covering (which Sont draws or writes on at various points in chalk). Also important is the book collection suspended above. Projections of sequences of Goya’s weird dark nightmare paintings ominously screen when Sont is ‘asleep’ – to Sister Ursuline’s music – and we also see fast snippets of Madrid at night (the taxi ride).
Casually dressed in jeans and tshirt, Gerry Sont as the narrator is magnificent in a whirlwind powerhouse performance, lithe, energetic and volatile. All keyed up, he is mesmerising as he takes us on his breathless, unexpected journey. We feel his desperation and isolation.
Sister Ursuline provides haunting accompaniment with cello music and/or voice, sometimes lyrical, sometimes harsh and spiky. Her long black hair is piled high and she wears a vaguely 18th century white dress with black boots and striped socks, in a was reminiscent of Goya’s paintings.
Divided into five parts (or ‘cappricccios ‘), as excitingly directed by Anna Jahjah, the work mines dreams and fantasy (or are they?) involving at least in part an extended taxi ride and the Prado and is extremely passionate about its anti-capitalist ideals.
The play with its exuberant, effervescent spirit is a celebration of individualism going against the rules and regulations of society and asks what it really means to be a human being.
Running time just under an hour no interval.
I’D RATHER GOYA ROBBED ME OF MY SLEEP THAN SOME OTHER SON OF A BITCH by Rodrigo Garcia is playing the Old 505 Theatre until the 2nd September.