March 25, 2010

That Face Review

Michael Hurst    posted 24 Mar 2010, 05:00 PM

Just finished reading Joanna Davies’ review the Silo’s production of “That Face” at the Herald Theatre. Great review and the production certainly deserves it.

I fell compelled, however, to take up a point she raises about older people in the audience. Claiming that they were probably there for Ward-Lealand in my view undermines the capabiltity of the older generation to make an informed choice about what kind of theatre they want to see. Let’s remember that confrontational theatre has been around a long time – there is nothing really new about the devices or content of recent plays in terms of their abilty to confront – just think of a play such as “Bent” from the early eighties, or “Equus” and “Marat Sade” from still earlier days – and the audiences that attended them are still attending theatre now.  Ms. Davies seems to think that these older people are somehow suddenly unable to be confronted, but in fact recoil should the performance and/or the material become to strong. I find this somewhat ingenuous – will she stop going to plays such as this when she reaches the age of “creaking hips”? Does she really think that (presumably) her generation is the first to be attracted to visceral and “in your face’ productions?

The Silo Theatre plays to a broad demographic. This is a salient feature of the company’s work. Every production that I have attended and/or or been involved with in the past six or so years has been charcterised by the extensive age range of its audience. If this is Ms. Davies first Silo production, then I am delighted at her surprise that there were people there who were at least over fifty (Sore backs? Stiff joints?) and hope that she is now aware that good theatre is good theatre, and that theatre goers are attracted to this no matter their age.

Jo Davies              posted 24 Mar 2010, 09:48 PM / edited 25 Mar 2010, 10:08 PM

Michael, in response to your comments (and they are much appreciated), I can assure you that mine stemmed from being in a particularly good seat to watch the performance – and the audience as they watched the performance. And it was fascinating.

By no means did I intend to cast aspersions on theatre-goers of a certain age; I was commenting on the reactions of the theatre’s patrons that night who, by and large were older than my parents. (For the record, it was my mother who introduced me to theatre a long time ago, and she continues to attend avidly.) No, there was a significant number of the audience who visibly moved back in their seats at certain intense moments – the Herald is an intimate space and the work’s performance captivating.

As for those who were keen to see Ms Ward-Lealand, several commented on the fact while enjoying their pre-show drink.

Frankly, I think the show may have been more “controversial” to a younger generation than mine who aren’t familiar with Silo. I certainly look forward to being provoked, titillated and confronted by theatre for my remaining decades.

Michael Hurst    posted 25 Mar 2010, 09:29 PM

Thanks for your response Jo. Good to clarify. I have had this discussion a number of times recently and so it was to the fore when I read your review. The show is booking really well I hear, so it will be “all on for young and old!”

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