Hugh M Casey is
A grand vision did not materialise. Putting on Tagore’s Sacrifice showed huge ambition but, said ambition and enthusiasm simply could not evoke a strong or coherent style to the piece.
The production opened with a static Shiva, Jennifer Ta, flanked by two subservient figures, setting the stage as a temple. Initially raised on a block platform complimented by a line of bunting, the trio had a stark effect. However, the addition of triplet bowls of tangerines was ill-fitting. This odd inclusion became even more baffling as the production began, with Ta occasionally picking up a fruit and considering it without any discernible reason. For lack of communication only bewilderment remained and the general aesthetic came to be realised as lacklustre.
Ilyana Bell, playing Gunavati, had the strongest on-stage presence. Bell’s performance brought a clear character who was consistent and substantially antagonistic throughout the production. Adam Ishaque took the central role of Govinda. He was precise and direct but lacked a vital vivacity needed for such a crucial character. Clement Yeung played Nakshatra, a somewhat peripheral role as the King’s brother. Yeung was impressive in this non-focal position, with promise of taking a bigger role in future.
Clarity was a fundamental failing of Sacrifice meaning that throughout the production there was an undesirable confusion surrounding plot direction. The audience was presented with a gaggle of characters, leaving questions of where the focus should primarily be. Line delivery and conveyance remained at a poorly subtle level without fluctuation or climax. This was especially true of Matthew Hui, as Raghupati, and Alberto Micheletti, as Jaising. It is only fair to note that an actor fell ill last minute, forcing Micheletti – the director – to step in. Nevertheless, the pair occupied an awkward and forced space from the beginning to the supposed climatic suicide. Because there was always something lacking, this decisive act was unclear and thoroughly flat.
The dance sequence was unfortunately very disappointing as ultimately, the dancers were out of time with each other. One dancer could not even keep a straight face, catching a friends’ eye and smirking whilst losing touch with the other dancers before colliding as she made her way off stage. Although the dancers were accomplished, the sequence felt out of place and unnecessary.
Visually the play promised on much that it unfortunately did not deliver. Many were sure to expect much from Sacrifice but the indecisive light, colour and shape choices did not capture any clear message. Overall, the play did not meet the high standards that we have come to expect from Mermaids productions.
STARS: * *
Hugh M Casey