Twenty three years ago I walked into The Seymore Centre to see ‘The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol’ by Theatre de Complicite. I had grown up in the rehearsal rooms of The Nimrod Street Theatre and so was very familiar with the passion and emotion that great story telling can evoke but up until that point I had not seen anything like what Complicite delivered through the eyes of ‘Lucie’. It stayed with me for years and I have waited almost a quarter of a century to see Simon McBurney’s brilliance once again and it did not disappoint. ‘Beware of Pity’ as part of the programing for this year’s Sydney Festival presented the most astonishing ensemble performance and actors that were so skilled it took your breath away. This cast were the Olympian’s of the Theatre world and were world class and deserve the standing ovation they received.
The anticipation as I walked into the beautiful Roslyn Packer Theatre was present and as soon as I saw the incredibly sophisticated set I knew we were about to be in the hands of a phenomenal creative team that were going to tell an incredible story through the craft of acting and supported by the equally extraordinarily talented creatives.
As the actors walked onto the stage you could feel the respect that the audience had for them and for what they were about to share with us. The effortlessness of the performances that followed only made it more impressive to an educated audience who knew what it would take to pull off the two hours of sheer brilliance. The agility, versatility and precision that the ensemble demonstrated was jaw dropping and not a beat was missed. This was true ensemble acting where they all had the same heart beat and every move and every breath was in response to the other’s. This was a cast of fantastic, transformative character actors. And what a beautiful story that unfolded, of expectations, obligations, guilt and living a life in the pursuit of keeping others happy and doing the right thing.
‘Beware of Pity’ is a co-production between Complicite and Schabuhne, with Simon McBurney Co Directing with James Yeatman.
The rules of the theatre were of course changed and once you grasped the rules you were free to go on the wild ride that was this seamless and stunning piece of theatre with a sound design that was a masterpiece and video that was smart, clever and unexpected. The set and costume design may have appeared simple but simple is strong, symbolic and intelligent. The lighting was brilliant in its design and execution. This is theatre that is a feast for the senses that left an audience up on their feet applauding these magicians in what could only be described as joyous, invigorating, entertaining, living art.
‘Beware of Pity’
By Stefan Zweig
In a version by Simon McBurney, James Yeatman, Maja Zade and the ensemble
A Schaubühne and Complicité co-production
With: Marie Burchard, Robert Beyer, Johannes Flaschberger, Christoph Gawenda, Moritz Gottwald, Laurenz Laufenberg, Eva Meckbach
Direction: Simon McBurney
Co-Direction: James Yeatman
Stage Design: Anna Fleischle
Costume Design: Holly Waddington
Lighting Design: Paul Anderson
Sound Design: Pete Malkin
Sound Associate: Benjamin Grant
Video Design: Will Duke
Dramaturgy: Maja Zade
Image: Gianmarco Bresadola