Hamilton Gardens, American Modernist Garden, Hamilton

25/02/2014 - 27/02/2014

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2014

Production Details

Written by Jo Randerson

Presented by Remote Fiction Theatre

Remote Fiction Theatre is excited to present BANGING CYMBAL, CLANGING GONG, written by acclaimed New Zealand playwright Jo Randerson.

Starring the Barbarian, Randerson’s script is at once alienating and enticing.  The dialogue sweeps from brutally broken English, to flawless French, and smoothly into classical allusion.  This unusual concatenation leaves a play that manages a mysterious kind of frankness.  The Barbarian is brutal, she is not from here, she is shocking, she’s not like you or me, but she also makes sense – like it or not, she’s one of us.

The play will be staged in the American Modern Garden, an echo of the culture with which the Barbarian is contrasted.  Audiences can look forward to a striking, physical presentation from local actress Rachel Clarke.  Rachel performs this 45 minute piece solo, supported by the musical talents of David Bowers-Mason.

As with all Remote Fiction Theatre performers, Rachel has been participating in a disciplined system of Dynamic Conditioning, designed to enhance her physical and vocal capabilities alongside the normal rehearsal process.

When:  25 February – 27 February 2014, 6:00 pm
Where:  Modernist Garden
Wet weather venue:  Victorian Garden Conservatory
Admission:  Adults $15 | Concession $10

The Barbarian
- Rachel Clarke 
Sound Technician - David Bowers-Mason

- Nick Sturgess-Monks 
Production Manager - Alice Kennedy 
Stage Manager - Amelia Williams 
Costumes - Debs Lanning 
Set Design - Rick Cave, Token Stone 
Publicity - Amanda Wallace 
Hair/Make Up - Jane Spenceley 

Theatre ,

Short, punchy, worth a look

Review by Ross MacLeod 01st Mar 2014

Here’s a show that bears its banner not only proudly but quite literally. Graffitied over the back drop is a quote from Macbeth: “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” It’s an upfront admission that the performance isn’t really ‘about’ anything. Certainly there is meaning to be drawn from it; what it means to be civilized, to love, to trace your lineage; but at its heart this is a character piece, a 40 minute monologue from a woman known only as The Barbarian.

Introduced by Sex Pistols music we see a character more retro punk than medieval warrior but it soon becomes apparent that contradictions are a recurring trait. There are some obvious absurdities, such as the lineage of ‘bastards’ precisely mapped out over seven generations, and some more subtle ones, such as The Barbarian claiming messy hair when her own spiked Mohawk is clearly carefully styled. She offers anecdotes and descriptions, never really leading anywhere but offering hints that there is far more than to her than she is letting on and that the Barbarian heritage is something of an act.

And of course on a practical level it is an act, pulled off in a strong performance by actress Rachel Clarke. One person stage shows are hard, especially in character and Clark never lets hers drop, eyeballing audience members menacingly, revelling in power and confidence that her character possesses. Initially standoffish, she warms up somewhat as the show progresses, more likable but still threatening. It’s offset nicely by some tangential moments, singing with piano music, reading poetry and it’s nice that the script lets Clark show off some versatility.

If there are limitations to be seen in her performance, they stem from the material. The Barbarian tells us that she is a wild, coarse character yet her dialogue and actions don’t match up to it. Which may well be another intended paradox or simply a case of theatrical practicalities.

Accompanying her in the one man show is David-Bowers Mason, supplying musical accompaniment, backstage help and omnipresent glowering. Silent and precise, cleaning up after The Barbarian, he is every bit as intent and focussed as his cast mate.

It’s not exactly deep and meaningful theatre or engaging narrative but if you want a short, punchy example of what two confident local actors are capable of Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong is worth a look. 


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