A scene from PACT theatre’s current production, BEGUILED

BEGUILED is described as “a performance installation experience” and at the start of the performance the artists invite the audience to accept the magic and essentially open themselves to possibilities. This indicates one should not expect conventional theatre and, within that construct, BEGUILED is entertaining and engaging.

There is no stage or audience seating, instead the audience is invited to enter the space and observe vignettes occurring in different components of the space. Not all audience members observe the same aspect at the same time. There are different rooms with different activities occurring simultaneously.

The lighting and soundscapes are beautiful and rich and innovative. Billowing tent like structures create different areas in the main space. Parts of the audience are shepherded through the areas divided by the illuminated cloth walls to view the different activities.

Engagement is the key to this piece. It is all about a response to the colours, sound and movement. At times there is an urge to touch the actors or parts of the set, such are the feelings evoked. After the opening scene in the foyer there is no dialogue, but the expressive faces of the actors stir up emotional responses as the various scenes unfold.

There is a disturbing scene in a beautifully illuminated & decorated stairwell in which a very distressed lady shakes & vocalises to the extent one was conflicted whether to offer assistance or to wonder about what was happening. Trying to understand what is happening is probably futile but one would be better served by letting go and just feeling the experience & emotion as it washes over you. One actor responds to a short video, another moves around inside a large box like structure unfolding & rearranging the structure and herself, and another goes through a series of keys hanging from the ceiling in an attempt to open a door.

The directors, Cat Jones and Julie Vulcan, have brought together designer, Lucy Thornett, lighting director, Emma Lockhart-Wilson and sound director Melissa Hunt in a production that appeals to the senses more than intellect. Generally theatre is about engaging the mind and from that engagement evoking an emotional response but with BEGUILED the appeal is directly to the senses. Some people would not see the point of this performance but others will be fully engaged with this alternative theatre experience.

The performers are Taryn Brine, Kate Brown, Madison Chippendale, Cameron Ellis, Sam Koh, Annabelle McMillan, Lucille Lehr, Tanya Thaweeskulchai, Emma White and Amber Wilcox. BEGUILED is a great opportunity for them to extend their craft.

BEGUILED opened on Thursday 24th November at the PACT centre for emerging artists, 107 Railway Pde, Erskineville and plays until Saturday 10th December, 2011.

© Mark Pigott

26th November, 2011

Tags: SYDNEY PLAY OF THE WEEK, BEGUILED, PACT theatre Erskineville, Cat Jones, Julie Vulcan, Lucy Thornett, Emma Lockhart-Wilson, Melissa Hunt, Taryn Brine, Kate Brown, Madison Chippendale, Cameron Ellis, Sam Koh, Annabelle McMillan, Lucille Lehr, Tanya Thaweeskulchai, Emma White, Amber Wilcox.