Fourteen billion years, an entire universe and a history of everything since and including the Big Bang, in reverse: This is a positively enormous accomplishment for a stage production.
Primary writers Alexander Devriendt and Joeri Smet, in collaboration with the cast and featuring fragments of Sum by David Eagleman, have successfully produced a work that is truly original.
The structure of A History of Everything is easy enough to understand; seven actors move rapidly across a map of the world, travelling backwards through history as we know it and beyond. It is the sheer volume of movement and change taking place that makes this performance so incredible.
Unfolding are iconic memories, trivial achievements and worldwide shifts that leap in over the top of one another as the seven actors race through history. It is all about our place in the universe and our utter insignificance, with some moments proving to be quite touching and some amusing. The cast carry the audience through a wild series of emotions to culminate in the most spectacular ending imaginable: the birth of the universe.
There really are no words powerful enough to do justice to this astounding feat of modern theatre. Alexander Devriendt’s writing and direction is sheer brilliance; he has created a fluid masterpiece. The cast (Charlotte De Bruyne, Nathalie Verbeke, Karolien De Bleser, Joeri Smet, Zindzi Okenyo, Cameron Goodall, and Tahki Saul) have been directed to move with perfect coordination; they congregate for vital memories, and then disperse to generate a sense of everything happening all at once. They are the machinery of the performance, driving it forward, and their energy never once wavers.
The scale of the set is massive for the space provided. There are huge black curtains and a sprawling map of the world. Sophie De Somere’s dramatic black costumes are appropriately simple in contrast with the elaborate multitude of props used and make the actors stand out against the white map. There are very few moments where the stage is not busy and not one moment where it is uninteresting.
[pull_left]There really are no words powerful enough to do justice to this astounding feat of modern theatre[/pull_left]
Projected in white onto a black curtain is a gradually ticking date and it is this that truly completes the picture. The rewinding date gives the audience context and relieves the actors of needing to state when they are in history. Lilith Tremmery’s lighting also deserves a mention, as towards the end of the performance it plays an integral role in overwhelming the audience.
Nothing could ever make you feel so small, and yet so important, because A History Of Everything is a reminder that all the insignificant little things make up a universe. My only regret is not being able to watch an earlier showing; I would certainly have ventured back a second time. This phenomenal performance sets out in the hope of achieving so much, and surpasses all its goals.
For more information, visit www.perthfestival.com.au