BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

20/02/2016 - 23/02/2016

NZ Fringe Festival 2016 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

RETRACTION: an M.C Escher nightmare…

“There is depth and breadth to the world of ‘Retraction’, as well as a jarringly bubbly sense of absurdity.”  – Kristyan Sian- Director/writer.

What exactly is a human being worth? Is the pursuit of love enough to escape tedium and achieve a sense of fulfilment? When three versions of the same person encounter themselves, what will they find? 

Danger Tape Collective presents ‘RETRACTION’, an expressionist play premiering at BATS Theatre in 2016. Written and directed by Kristyan Sian, ‘RETRACTION’ combines the macabre with the nonsensical, targeting modern Wellingtonians in depicting their struggle for individuality as “undervalued cogs in a bloated machine.” 

Trapped within a surreal ‘M.C. Escher nightmare’, Charlotte’s already strange newspaper job descends into a dark, twisted journey through alternate realities, psycho-sexuality, and poisonous human attachment. A multimedia black comedy unravels an intricate conspiracy, featuring expressionist theatre, film, and live music. The Boss, the band – the other Charlatans – are watching…are you?

The Dome, BATs Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington.
20th-23rd February 2016
Tickets: $14 Concession, $18 Full

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Review by Maraea Rakuraku 22nd Feb 2016

Entering the stage space, Cellist Bethany Miller is always going to make an impression on a late Sunday night. That she remains in full view throughout the play, interpreting so much of the mood of what takes place in Retraction for the next 80 or so minutes, adds to the many layers of this self-described “M.C Escher nightmare”-styled piece.

Charlotte (Ella McLeod) works as a retractionist. She’s a little high strung. Co-worker (Luka Venter) is a little bit cruisey. Pseudo (Sydney Lehman) is a bit of a bitch. Or is she? And the boss (James Calverley)? Well, the boss is what bosses are. Or is he, or are they?

These are just some of the positions and questions posed by Krystian Sian in this, his full play showing. 

I struggle through some of it. The dialogue tends to sound the same but perhaps that’s purposeful. And there is a lot of dialogue to get through. This then has an impact upon the inner beat of the play and its rhythm.

That said, there are some really neat directorial choices made by Sian (I reckon he’s one to watch). The use of video, sound, lighting, a simplified yet effective set, the movement between all the characters and use of the stage and a perfectly-pitched dance scene, really add to the layers of this work. And there be layers. 

It’s about 30 or so minutes in that the cast start to really sit into their roles and/or, that I find something to hinge my understanding on of what’s going on.  

It’s to Venter to whom the eyes are drawn. The way he owns a scene makes you want to see more of him and I hope to.

There is a real intensity to this work and a sincerity that could be further explored. I encourage all to do so and look forward to seeing it when it shows again. 


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