Confession time. Given the Compagnie Philippe Genty’s considerable international reputation and given Genty’s genuinely unique style of performance art, it’s important to declare that this reviewer has not seen any previous productions by this company.
That feels better.
Of course, this also means a fresh attitude, a virgin perspective. There are plenty of Genty favourites in this production, we’re told, but they won’t seem tired to this reviewer. Au contraire. Bring on the theatrical magic! Bring on the adult-tinged, surrealism-lite, non-text driven eye-smorgasbord!
Hmmm. Here’s what it’s about. A group of actors dressed like the chorus from Salad Days slide about on chairs as if floating on the ocean, then tread water in a blue parachute swelled by a wind machine.
The group then push doll-like versions of themselves about the stage, one of them gets shot a few times, and there’s a dance number with cardboard boxes. Finally, an enormous blow-up man inflates, then deflates, to an extended soundtrack of farting noises.
Yes, there were moments of theatrical wonder, but overall the event seemed under-rehearsed and even amateurish. The puppetry was sloppy and the pacing nauseatingly slow. A routine involving an actor being given an arm in a box was straight out of vaudeville and the resolution -“ that we are all our own assassins -“ was both predictable and pretentious.
It’s this sort of banal psychobabble that gives French philosophers a bad name and sent me scrambling for a copy of Foucault’s Discipline And Punish to throw at the stage.
If this review seems too personal, even self-indulgent, then blame the show itself. In the opening scenes of Vanishing Point some ridiculous mime asks in spooky Twilight Zone tones: Is it possible that what you are seeing is not me, but a tiny part of your inner self projected out of you?
If so, I mustn’t like myself very much.
Vanishing Point by Philippe Genty continues at the Sydney Theatre, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, until 31 July. Phone 9250 1999 for bookings.