‘The Good Person of Szechwan’ directed by Ashley Kelly Tata was a highly memorable reinterpretation of Brecht. Traditional Brechtian techniques were harnessed but altered to create a piece that was eerie and absurdist. Its distinct aesthetic was reminiscent of Edward Scizzorhands, with large eighties hair and outlandish make up. Staged at the Riverside Theatre, the play fit all too snugly in the context of the recession.
Combined with Tata’s direction the set was used to create dynamic, shocking images. Most notable was the theatrical imagery displayed in ‘The Song of The Eight Elephants’. Orange lighting combined with the mechanical dance choreography created a distinctive dystopia while high pitch singing and hair-nets only added to the scene.
This quirky atmosphere was echoed in the intriguing music. Paul Pinto matched the feel of the piece wonderfully using eerie guitar plucks and a cello. Inventive sound effects such as pouring a watercan into a steel bowl to evoke rain, were also used.
New Media was harnessed to a great extent. Direct address was shown through a camera attached to the roof. This was used to great humorous effect when Mrs Shin tries to figuring out who Shen Te is talking to, breaking the illusion.
The characterisation of the Gods was by far my favourite. The Gods were presented as the cookie cutter perfect American family, on the tip of mental break down. Stylised movements and melodrama was used to great effect. Tata projected the gods on a white sheet, but also allowed the audience to see the Gods being filmed in front of a green screen behind. A transparency of technique that I’m sure Brecht would applaud.
Notable actors were Mrs Shin played by Kate Hamill, Wang The Water Seller by Micheal Brahce and all of the Gods.