November 5, 2022

Owls Do Cry

Owls Do Cry is a "contemporary response" to the Janet Frame novel. The novel may speak to an older generation while this performance is geared towards a younger; "contemporary" is very apt. However, you may find yourself equally confused whether you've read the book or which generation you belong too. 

The performance isn't something that would generally fit the narrow category of theatre, but like any performance the experience is subjective. Some of it was enjoyable, some bits were elements from the book and sometimes I wondered when it was going to end. My companion found it spoke to them in an undefined way; they enjoyed the performance but couldn't put their finger on why.

The fourth wall was often broken; performers spoke directly to the audience, acknowledged the book existed and that they were actors rather than the characters. The book itself makes an appearance - on stage and in the audience. It was distracting to be given a book then have to pay attention, then difficult to release.

Something in the marketing reminded me of Strasbourg 1518 and there were similarities; semi nudity, performers throwing themselves around stage seemingly at random but it's actually finely choregraphed. Unlike Strasbourg, Owls Do Cry speaks directly to the audience and includes them, we are participants rather than voyeurs. Performers break into song, the movements are almost acrobatic so much so that we worried for the older actors backs.

The lighting deserves special mention. You don't often consider lighting during a show but here it was a performer itself, equally important as the human counterparts. A barely lit person on a black stage becomes a crucifix, a beacon, words meld into each other then become waves and water drowning the actors.

You may enjoy this or you may spend the 70 minutes wondering when it's going to end, but it will give you something to think about. If you go in expecting a literal translation of the novel you'll be in for a shock.

Performances: 3-13 November (times vary)

Tickets: $54

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