– by Jen Perry
An intense visual and aural experience, From the Rubble is director Melissa Cantwell’s dynamic and heartfelt interpretation of the effects of violence, isolation, boredom and fear experienced by civilians in conflict zones. The work is inspired and perceptibly informed by the work of journalist Sophie McNeil, noted particularly for her award-winning reports from Gaza and Afghanistan.
While the recollections and tales portrayed in From the Rubble are less linear than a typical news story, each moment feeds into the next, always with a sense of compassion and empathy for its subjects. There is little to no subtlety in this work, and I feel that this is perhaps very much the point. The discussion of war and the utterly devastating effects it has on the lives of those who have no choice in the matter is in itself, a profound message. This message is only strengthened by Fleur Elise Noble’s expert use and integration of projection. Never feeling extraneous or added in post production, Noble’s intricate use of light, paper cut outs and movement adds an incredibly compelling component to Cantwell’s interpretation of journalism and the emotive relationship it establishes with the audience.
Performances by Tina Torabi, Mikala Westall and Mei Saraswati are filled with the innocence of the early teenaged girls they portray. There were times when the dialogue felt a bit contrived and clunky and I wonder if the clipped, sound-bite-style discourse of journalism affected the actors in their delivery.
An overall engaging show, I would especially encourage high school students to see From the Rubble. Although its content is relatively straight forward, the delivery is exciting and thought provoking and should elicit important conversations about war zones and the utterly impossible situations civilians are foisted into. The only major criticism I have is the lack of call to action. I walked away feeling horrible about the realities of those living in conflict zones, but without the proper information to really do anything about it. Nevertheless, From the Rubble is well worth seeing if you appreciate experimental theatre.
From the Rubble can be seen at PICA (51 James St, Perth) until March 28th. Visit Perth Theatre Company’s website for more information.
Photo courtesy of Perth Theatre Company.