Writer and Director: Robert Lepage
Reviewer: Marina Spark
Renowned playwright and dramatist Robert Lapage brings his world famous production The Far Side Of The Moon to the Lyric stage at the Theatre Royal Plymouth in a stunning revival almost two decades since its conception.Unusually for a piece so heavily set in historical commentary almost every aspect of this production is original. It features a technically brilliant stage, a purpose written score, bespoke puppetry, and unique use of recorded and live action cinematography. Yves Jacques’s performance brings these elements, and the absorbing story, to life.
Multi-roling in this one-man performance Jacques demonstrates a surprising breadth of physical performance. A lesser performer would be easily tripped up by the deceptively fast pace of this leviathan one act production but Jacques commands the space. With mirrors and cameras almost constantly shifting the location of the fourth wall Jacques deftly embraces the multi-dimensional performance space. Each character is clearly distinguishable and at any given time the audience is able to completely believe that it is witnessing one piece of a greater puzzle in action. This bolsters the production’s theme of feeling isolated in a crowd and humanity’s need to look outward of itself in order to thrive.
The technically accomplished set and staging visually dominates from the moment the audience enter the auditorium. Combining the effective use of mirrors and a variety of materials and surfaces such as chalkboard backdrops and interlocking, free moving, staging segments the set rapidly reconstructs itself around the performance space and feels as much a living thing as Jacques himself.
The score is understated yet effective and powerful. Each composition has been tailored to this production by Laurie Anderson. As such it forms part of the fabric of the scene and is as integral to it as the set itself.
Unusually the puppetry is not relied upon as a dominating aspect of the performance. Instead, it is deftly yet subtly used to create a crucial allegorical link between the historical space race and the story unfolding around the characters on stage.
The production’s cinematic feel is enhanced by the use of extremely high quality recorded and live action film. Whether displaying footage from history or showing an alternative viewpoint of the onstage action the film brings together the strands of this production into a visually cohesive whole.
There is little fault to find with this production and only the odd stumble over the lines or rogue staging piece detracts from this otherwise seamless production. The length of the piece may also be uncomfortable for some audience members.
This production is a visionary piece of art that will speak to many. It comes highly recommended.
Runs until 18 March 2017 | Image: Ex Machina