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Murder - Sydney Festival

Jan 8th 2013 | Dave Drayton
Erth are better known for their family friendly shows – their physical theatre and puppetry muscles flexed to provide Dinosaur petting zoos and the like – and it seems that their first 'adult' show, the 18+ Murder, has a point to prove. With a troubled host at its centre (Graeme Rhodes is part-TV detective, part-prime suspect; indifferent mostly, with gory curiosity and entirely brilliant) the production examines our culture's obsession with violence. Rhodes, the set and brilliantly designed puppets (Stagger Lee with a garish grin, as well as a blonde femme fatale who grows in size to match the escalating mystery surrounding her) are handled by ill-intentioned shadows, black clad figures that orchestrate violence, nightmares and some fairly gratuitous and extended sex scenes. However, Kate Champion's choreography is brilliant, particularly evocative in the drawn out sex scenes featuring our pro/antagonist and a life-sized puppet.

A powerful opening monologue traces humankind's obsession of violence through history, but this strong foundation is soon submerged in difficult lighting that obscures the spectacle and a mediation that seems to be less on murder and more whatever could be considered appropriately confronting. What results (particularly an overcooked video game segment and tokenistic representation of euthanasia) is visually intriguing, but uncertain – or over compensatory – in its morbid musings.

Running to Saturday 19 January, Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre


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