Turmoil: A state of great disturbance, confusion or uncertainty. This definition already serves as a great starting point for a play, and Brazilian playwright Jô Bilac runs with this. Translated by Rogerio Correa and Richard Murphy, the melodramatic production hints at the antiquity and macabre quality of Steven Berkoff”s The Fall of the House of Usher and the unapologetic boldness of pantomime.
Zoning in on the lives of a young married couple, the evening witnesses the dwindling foundations of their relationship due to the arrival of the sister-in-law. Cue showdowns and re-evaluating relationships. Performed and adapted by the Dende Collective, the company proudly showcase their international roots, championing a much needed sense of diversity that we need to witness more of in the theatre world. Ged Petkunas and Ciara Ellen Molloy depict the youthful couple; they are the epitome of romanticism, Bianca (Molloy) the angelic heroine and Matias (Petkunas), the archetypal hero. Their relationship however doesn’t truly pull at the heart strings. Although their relationship is the focus of the evening, their perfect persona’s stop the characters becoming relatable.
Fernanda Mandagará‘s Vladine is the ultimate diva. Arms flail, elaborate speeches are delivered down to a tee and an obnoxious air contributes to the crumbling down of the young lover’s relationship. Sister to Matias, their brotherly/sisterly love threatens to diminish their marriage. Bilac cleverly places these two relationships side by side and attempts to examine them both, however this examination is only skin deep. This has scope and can therefore be looked at further. Alejandro De Mesa‘s Nathaniel… a tap dancing goat causes a round of laughter when making his initial entrance. Vladine’s love for Nathaniel initially appears absurd, however loose ends are tied at the play’s conclusion and this for me is where the play has heart. Turmoil is an allegorical piece, a form of play not commonly witnessed in our day and age but a great way to communicate themes via symbolism. Nathaniel-a creature synonymous with being stubborn and strong willed, also displays a gently and child-like quality- and shows just how much use humans are willing to care for animals, perhaps more so than our own family and friends.
Lourdes Fernandez enthuses some fun and passion with flamenco sequences and André Pink directs an ambitious play that perhaps would benefit from editing due to the length of the scenes. The evening is an international amalgamation which is key with Ella Bellsz, Birte Widman and Tom Bauling accenting the evening with their musical compositions.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Turmoil was shown at the Brazilian Embassy from Friday 30th September until Saturday 1st October. For more information on the Dende Collective, visit here…
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