Pain(t), New Wimbledon Theatre

Ali Wright,

by Tom Brocklehurst

The New Wimbledon Theatre is hosting a series of Richard Foreman’s early avant-garde works from the 1960s and 70s. Based on that sentence alone, you will already know whether you’re interested in coming along.

The first piece of the season, originally staged in 1974, delivers on its expectations – it’s odd, faintly amusing, challenging and absolutely nonsensical.

“There’s something liberating about making a piece that has absolutely no meaning” said one of the cast in the post show Q & A. And they’ve certainly done this. Try as they might, any audience member will struggle hard to find any kind of narrative in these short scenes.

The cast, dressed in Elizabethan costumes, walk slowly about the stage, intoning lines as if each utterance is painful. Lights flash on and off. A doll suspended from the ceiling seems to be narrating the action. Nothing happens.

Whether you enjoy this piece entirely depends on your view of this sort of work. To some, it will be a pleasantly challenging piece and an interesting look at 1960s avant garde performance from the founder of New York City’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater. To others it will be a gigantic waste of time.

Pain(t) runs through 16 March.

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