The Reality Event – Suicide
The Suicide Ensemble
Produced by Nathan Booth
Season: May 7 – 23 . $15, 60 mins duiration (MA15+) Bookings: http://anywherefest.com/brisbane
“MY first instinct here is to apologise. But I’m not writing this to apologise…If I’ve learned anything from the creation of this event, it’s that people love to be scared.”
This was written by Daniel Gough, facilitator of Suicide in the program notes.
This message became – to me, in any case - the underlying mantra of this production.
Suicide is a dark topic; it is in no way supposed to be taken lightly. There is no way to dispute that. This production seems to have sought to explore this theme and bring out the bare truth of Suicide and present it to the audience.
Presented by the Suicide Ensemble, Suicide created a voyeuristic piece that shattered the traditions of theatre and brought a production that was new and perhaps a precursor to what theatre is about to become.
It was also incredibly intimate; which is a word that I will be using a lot when it comes to this piece, because it truly came across as the embodiment of this production. The more I watched the show, the more chilling it became – which was apparently the point Gough made in his notes, right?
Upon entering the space, were we given a disclaimer that the piece was graphic and violent, which is suppose to mean that we were given the choice to see the show and by doing so, digging ourselves a proverbial hole and forcing ourselves to lie in it.
In fact, the audience was given a choice at the beginning of the show, to leave when we wanted to, should we find the content too much.
The general plot of the piece was simple, through the heavy use of audience participation each performer was chosen and voted for, and thus having been chosen, proceeded to ‘take’ their own lives with items that were also voted for by the audience. I have to add here that the audience was able to voice comments during the production as well, which added to this element of audience participation, and a causal ambiance that the production exuded.
There were quiet moments where causal conversation was had by the performers, but it was not the focus of the story. It was such a simple plot, that it was almost completely lost, and indeed didn’t seem to exist at all; which again, according to the program notes, was something that was intended.
This choice of plot structure added to the intimacy of the whole piece. The Suicide Ensemble were each incredibly realistic to the point where it became ambiguous as to whether they were actually committing the act, rather than acting. It sent frissions of fear crawling down my spine. The ensemble should be congratulated then, for evoking such a reaction in me. The fear was exhilarating.
What I liked most about the production was the space. The lighting and set design was incredibly simple, with lights at the periphery of the space and the house lights were not dimmed.
The production was at the Bean café on George Street, Brisbane city and provided an ambiance that was really close and again, intimate. I have never been to a café to see a show and was greatly pleased by the novelty of the whole thing. The audience was able to file in and chose from a small number of seats and even were given the choice to get up and order drinks at the counter during the duration of the show.
This, again, added a very casual element to the production, which created an unusual layer to the piece which I cannot quite name. Perhaps this casual attitude created a sense of levity to the show which in turn made it all the more chilling. The audience as also seated quite close to the edge of the performance space which made the content all the more confronting.
In summation, suicide, created and presented by the Suicide Ensemble was a dark, graphic and gritty piece that broke down the boundaries of traditional theatre. It presented a piece that was intimate, voyeuristic, and terrifying.
If this is the kind of theatre that is starting to emerge, then it will be very interesting indeed to see in which direction modern theatre is headed.