Gorillas

Alfred ve dvoře resident Fleur Alexander reviews a selection of the theatre's nonverbal productions

It's an interesting genre definition: Theatre Castration.

A term that, from what I can tell, has been coined by Ondřej Lipovský, the director, set and costume designer of this piece.

It's a term that creates an uncomfortable feeling before the performance has even begun. It conjures sensations of restriction and suffering, but perhaps this is the point.

Four gorillas, with a middle-earthy and primal presence, utilize the space effortlessly and courageously, while four painted, geisha-type women with cartoon-like characterization, at first, mismatch their animal partners with stifled and nervous movements.

What unfolds is an abstract family story about internal and external co-dependence, about the balance of power and the differences between people and the hopelessness that can accompany them.

Gorillas explores this theme by exploiting the use of contrasts. The differing heights of the stage, the fluctuating mood of the music, the women's movements in comparison to the gorillas, or the switching pace of the action throughout.

These clear distinctions force an audience into making an almost awkward comparison between the two, which leads to an overall higher awareness of what's happening on stage.

By devising a piece that's layered with physical contrasts within its composition, it has naturally highlighted its own figurative semantic intention.

This piece reminds me of the possibility of what theatre can achieve; there's so much happening on stage at any one point, it becomes the audience's choice of what to look at.

You divert your eyes wherever you choose and this is an advantage theatre will always have over film and television. You do not see from behind the eyes of one director, but a director lays out multiple possible scenes for you.

Instead of a three-course set meal, however delicious it may taste, you get a freshly prepared gourmet buffet to derive your own pleasure from.

Gorillas seeks to stress the lack of control we have in the direction of our lives by providing every individual in the audience control in how they stitch together their own interpretation of the performance. But then, however, you realize that you don't have choice, you have simply the illusion of a choice.

Before the piece even begins, the seating arrangement presents a microcosm of reality. We make choices that affect everything that happens from that point forward.

When you choose where to sit, that choice affects your experience of what story you see develop, just as the choices we make in life affect our interpretation of our experiences of it.

This third layer, this final thought, is the sucker punch that drives home a straightforward point: Your life is out of your control.

However, I don't believe that situation necessarily needs to be as daunting as Gorillas paints it. Even though what lies ahead of us may be out of our control, an individual can still control the way in which they consider it.

I don’t agree that we are defeated before we have even fought. I believe if you make positive, informed and thought-out choices and accept and embrace the limited control you do have, while knowing you made the best decision you could at that particular time, it'll constrain the amount of helpless despair you may feel.

Because real choice isn't in action within life, it is in reaction to life.

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