Writer: VERK Produksjoner Theatre Company
Reviewer: Laura Marriott
Wishful Beginnings is an unusual performance piece to be included in the Dublin Theatre Festival; it coming across more as performance art than necessarily a piece of theatre. Created by Norwegian Theatre Company VERK Wishful Beginnings opens with an intentionally awkward conversation between a woman stood on one side of the audience wearing gold, and a man stood opposite her, across the audience, his clothes slowly changing throughout the conversation. She questions him. The questions encompass happiness, hopes, death and the future, all of which are explored throughout by movement, light and sudden loud, jarring noises. They go on to investigate the idea of Hamlet and action, or inaction, and the idea of listening to ghosts in order to spur one on. This idea did not however fully come through and was only made clear by the performance notes. Interestingly the group have decided to significantly decrease the size of the stage, blocking it off with wooden panelling, bringing the performers into the space of the audience.
Midway through the performance one character begins a monologue which discusses the idea of travelling through the hard and difficult stuff of life to find one’s wishful beginning. This seems to be the central theme to the work and if one can get on board with this then there is enjoyment to be had in Wishful Beginnings. Other monologues, in which the players are often in darkness except for the speaker who is illuminated, go on to discuss ecological failure, sexual dystopia and the collapse of democracy. The five performers wear body makeup, strange masks and capes that are somewhat reminiscent of ancient gods, and 10 inch white platform heels. They look both alike and very dissimilar to the audience. Improvisation, the idea of getting lost and then finding the end point are themes that run throughout the piece, however without a clear narrative or characters these ideas can be difficult to grasp. Wishful Beginnings does not allow the watcher to sit back and relax, but to be challenged. It is strange that VERK have decided to upload the entirety of the performance online before the end of their run, perhaps undermining the idea of fresh improvisation and openness each night.
Wishful Beginnings is for anyone who has an interest in experimental theatre that sets out to bush the boundaries and ideas of traditional theatre.
Runs until 8 October as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival | Image: contributed