Where: West End
6 September 2004 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews A show that not only burns into your retina - literally so, if you don't look away during a moment of blinding light - but also burrows deep into your senses, Complicite's is back. First seen at the Barbican Theatre last year as part of BITE:03 and making a welcome return there now as part of BITE:04 and a tour that has already visited Tokyo and New York and will go on to Paris and Ann Arbor, Michigan, it is as theatrically startling as it is has been uniquely created out of an international collaboration between Complicite, BITE and Tokyo's Setagaya Public Theatre. The Elephant Vanishes
Complicite may have begun life as a Perrier-Award winning physical comedy troupe, but in the 21 years of their existence led by artistic director
Simon McBurney they have created a body of work that far transcends that. While the company's website states that "Complicite is more than a theatre company: it is a state of mind", this latest collaboration is more than just a show but also a distillation and a major advance of the kind of outward looking multi-media work that goes beyond the narrow confines of Britain's text-based theatre.
While earlier this summer McBurney made something revelatory and vividly contemporary out of Shakespeare's
at the National Theatre, his starting point here is to bring a far stranger and more alien urban landscape to theatrical life. Inspired by a collection of short stories by contemporary Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, McBurney makes the urban alienation of a teeming, brightly-lit Tokyo urgent and compelling, as it tells of the collisions between a kitchen salesman obsessed by the disappearance of a zoo elephant, a housewife who goes 17 days without sleep, and a couple of desperately hungry newlyweds who embark on a mission to hold up a local McDonalds. Measure for Measure
Working with a group of endlessly resourceful and trusting Japanese actors, he stretches theatrical form to meet the constantly mutating content and throws down a gauntlet to audiences, too, whose senses are being challenged by the changing textures of light, sound, movement and language (the show is performed in Japanese with English surtitles, that can be an effort to keep up with while you are focused on the other distractions around it).
Robert Lepage, another darkly inspired theatrical visionary, McBurney spins theatrical gold out of the oddness of the captivating stories he brings to such distinctive life.
- Mark Shenton
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