Directed by Barry Walsh
King Street Theatre
644 King Street, Newtown
Season: 15 – 26 March
The closer we examine the day-to-day motions of our lives, the more blatantly absurd life appears to be. These observations are only heightened when we consider the extents at which technology diverts our attention from actually living, disregarding the present human life that surrounds us. Barry Walsh’s production of The Bald Soprano makes incisive observations, extending on those inherent in Ionesco’s writing. The play revels in the Absurdist genre supplying lots of laughs to boot.
The Bald Soprano meets the audience in middle-upper class English society, set in a stately living room teeming with clocks – showing contradictory times. It seems this is a room where time functions as a perfunctory signal, resulting in persistent but inconsequential chimes. Continually the audience is presented with statements and truisms rendered meaningless through the play’s treatment of dialogue and action, or inaction. The play is wholly faithful to the Absurdist genre (agonising long pauses and all!) while Walsh’s direction imbues stylistic flair to the work that serves to extrapolate traditional messages of the play. Discussion of our contemporary relationships with technology and mobile phones stood out as a salient message, with Cheng Tang and Rhiannon Watson representing the human demise into robotic automation in one particular scene, as a glimmering twist to the original writing. The cast as a whole are at their best when they allow themselves to wholly embody the outrageous and nonsensical essence of the play. This side of the actors is exposed at certain unrestrained sections of the work, however greater sustenance of this focus and commitment to the Absurd would be of value. The brazen physicalisations by the actors are delightfully funny, as well as the indulgent awkwardness, allowing both the performers and audience to sit back and laugh at the weirdness on stage reflecting that of our own lives.
Perhaps seeing an Absurdist play totally unaware of its nuanced style, an audience member might be confronted by the play’s seemingly bizarre and untraditional demeanour. However with some understanding of the genre and an open attitude, I think Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano is vastly revealing of the nature of our monotonous daily lives – bereft of true meaning…depending on your interpretation. But life is full of natural comedy, which Walsh’s production encapsulates in its own wacky and endearing way. When a play can get you thinking about the meaning of life and still make you laugh, you know you’re onto something good.