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Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Margaret von Klemperer reviews Rob Murray’s clever play performed at the Witness Hilton Arts Festival.

Rob Murray’s clever Pictures of You is a delight – a play about communication and the lack of it, communicated silently. The audience watches the cast of Liezl de Kock and Dorian Burstein for an hour, without a word being spoken. The performers are also masked, but the lack of speech or facial expression in no way inhibits a moving, touching production. In fact, by forcing our concentration on to the minutest action, it enhances it.

The piece uses puppets, the masks, a revolving set and music to tell the story of a marriage, from meeting, through passion, to the final dissolution. Cracks appear when he starts to dream, the dream sequences demarcated by the use of lighting and sound, and she starts to remember. A violent incident is the catalyst that will bring the whole edifice down.

For this kind of theatre work to be successful, each moment needs to be crystal clear, and the audience has to be able to follow the story. Once or twice, things do become a little puzzling, but over all, the actors do an excellent job of keeping the audience with them and the audience response suggests that the experience of watching rather than listening and watching is a pleasurable one.

There is a paradox at the heart of the play. The couple reach a point where they do not speak to each other, and so their problems grow. But by not speaking to their audience, the performers bewitch us with their tale. Gripping and moving. - Margaret von Klemperer