Monday, 1 September 2014

The Infinite Pleasures of the Great Unknown, Tramway 2008

/5 stars
Music, cinema and choreography collide in the afterlife of a classic German horror.

PUBLISHED in the skinny 14 JUNE 2008
The Infinite Pleasures of the Great Unknown is seductive and frustrating: it rejects structure, begins before the audience enters and continues after the audience is ushered out. Infinite Pleasures is multi-media - the performers' movements are relayed on a large screen that separates them from the audience - and bracing.

The audience is encouraged to walk around and inspect the auditorium, even leave and come back. Popcorn has been scattered about the seating, a convincing police-man wanders around, inspecting the set while a taciturn security guard guards proceedings.

On stage a fictional company, Troupe Mabuse, are caught in a perpetual loop of terror and anxiety. These repetitious tableaux and short choreographies are based on King Lear and The Testament of Dr Mabuse, but both sources are incoherent. The passages from Lear have been garbled: Mabuse plays onstage, invisible to the audience.

None of this is really important. Bock and Vincenzi aren't telling a story, but creating an atmosphere, a haunting spectacle that resonates beyond the immediate experience. As theatre, it is dull and weird. By inviting the audience to wander about, they move beyond theatre, creating something mysterious and austere.

Like a segment of a David Lynch film in the flesh, like wandering upon an alienated cabaret, Infinite Pleasures lurks at the threshold of understanding. Sudden moments of activity - a brief dance to some reggae or a gothic camp rendition of Beginning to See the Light - engage, but then retreat to leave behind more mystery. This really is one for the dedicated.

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