Deciphering @ New Diorama Theatre Review

Discovered by archaeologists earlier on this year in Indonesia, in the Leang Tedongne limestone cave situated on Sulawesi Island, wall etchings dating back roughly 37,500 years have captured imagination. An animal cave painting depicting a narrative up for interpretation, it’s said that this is one of the world’s oldest known art works. Delving into this new find in their latest show DecipheringCurious Directive, in collaboration with Indonesian artist collective Bombo, merge the old world with the new, technology a new frontier as it compliments the recent discovery’s level of scale and wonder.

Tracing Elise’s journey as a student at an Indonesian international school, to her applying to complete a PhD in her mid 20s, to her years later pursuing a career in archeology in her early 40s, we watch her unpredictable trajectory as she figures out her ambitions – time cleverly explored as although we watch her career path up until her early 40s, Deciphering rewinding, fast forwarding and bringing us back to the present, this helping us guage a well rounded idea of who Elise is, a powerful convention of the show. Deciphering is fractured yet beautifully interlinked, based in a classroom, a relatable aspect of many of our lives, we see where Elise’s inspirations and aspirations have emerged, her teaching environment an encouraging space to figure out her career path.

Deciphering’s ensemble, consisting of Amanda HadingueAsha SylvestreFarah QadirLewis MackinnonMohamad Faizal AbdullahSarita Gabonyand Stephanie Street wonderfully capture the show’s sense of adventure and scale established, expertise from Paleo-archeologist Genevieve von Pertzinger heightening the show’s emphasis on the archeological field and the attention to detail professionals acquire in the art of new discovery. Zoë Hurwitz’s intelligent set design centres the evening, the colourful, compact classroom’s flooring rising to reveal the cave’s hidden dark depths, the scaffolding above geniusly depicting the cave’s height, the classroom, the show’s main setting a reminder of where ambition begins.

Rais Riceand Reza Enem’s (Bombo) multimedia work imaginatively sets the tone in terms of time frame, subtitles projected offer English translations from French when necessary, and vivid projections act as locational backdrops when needed . Pete Malkinand Kieran Lucas’ sound design, experienced via headphones wonderfully distances all away from London for the next 90mins, a continuous feature of the evening, the composition’s subtle yet continual flow calming and meditative – an energy all of its own. Jack Lowe’s direction centring on the sentimental and imaginative – an inventive evening!

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Deciphering is currently showing until Saturday 2nd October 2021 at the New Diorama Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop