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SURREAL INTERPRETATION OF MANKINDíS LAST DAYS

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ESCHATON
Devisors: Susie Berry, Daniel Emms, Simon Haren, Isobel MacKinnon, Isobel Mebus, Theo Taylor and Nick Zwart
Director: Stella Reid
Musical Composition: Sean Kelly and Thomas Lambert (Seth Frightening and i.ryoko) Sonorous Circle

at Studio 77, VUW, Wellington
From 17 Dec 2012 to 21 Dec 2012

Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson, 20 Dec 2012
originally published in The Dominion Post

The Eschaton means the final event in the divine plan or the end of the world. This may happen this coming Friday. A planet called Nibiru which, NASA assures us, doesn't exist is also meant to crash into Earth when the Mayan Long Count calendar comes to a stop. Best place to be: a small hillside village in south-west France.

The flyer for the piece of what would have been called experimental theatre back in the early sixties suggests that it deals with these matters. Though Eschaton: the Final Thing is tenuously related to these apocalyptic events it is really about something else altogether.

The something else is some of the ideas of Terence McKenna, who died in 2000. According to Wikipedia he was an American ethnobotanist, philosopher, psychonaut, researcher, teacher, lecturer and writer on many subjects such as human consciousness, language, psychedelic substances, the evolution of civilizations, the origin and end of the universe, alchemy and extraterrestrial beings.

In her Director's Notes in the programme Stella Reid, inspired by McKenna's writings, explores “how an eschaton could affect, and ultimately transform, humanity.” McKenna imagines human existence going through “a gestation process” and that when the end happens we will go through a process of metamorphosis and emerge from our human cocoon with “a human machine planet-girdling interface capable of releasing the energies that light the stars!”

Staged under graceful white curtains arranged like an elegant marquee a series of related scenes and stories are presented in surrealistic fashion and they are all accompanied by some marvellous musical effects (Sean Kelly and Thomas Lambert) which are full of tension and foreboding but never deafening.

The stories involve a drag queen, a naive man and a prostitute, a group of friends, one of whom, for reasons I didn't follow, instructs the group on how to kill a horse, and a dead man searches for his live partner or is it the other way round? It all gets a bit too confusing at times though there is a well-staged coup de theatre when an extraterrestrial briefly appear. It ends, as T.S. Eliot said it would, with a whimper.  
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