Cordelia is a painfully beautiful contemporary prequel to Shakespeare’s iconic King Lear. The premier production of Cordelia at the Street Theatre, Canberra is highlighted with strong production and design values, physicality and contemporary sound score – borrowing largely from the 80s.
Presented by: The Little Dove Art Theatre/Motherboard Productions/The Street Theatre, CanberraVenue: The Street Theatre Canberra Review Date: Friday, 4 November 2011 Cordelia is a painfully beautiful contemporary prequel to Shakespeare’s iconic King Lear. The premier production of Cordelia at the Street Theatre, Canberra is highlighted with strong production and design values, physicality and contemporary sound score – borrowing largely from the 80s. The piece follows three sisters through the eyes of the King of France, ‘navigating their way through a harrowing dreamlike retelling of their pasts’ as the show’s media notes divulge. The writer explores an imagined reasoning for each daughter’s response to King Lear’s divisive question “tell me how you love me”. This unravels the web of family forces that push, cut and squash us into an identity and world view – by acceptance or rebellion. Chenoeh Miller’s (writer/director) sophomore production, in partnership with The Street Theatre’s Made In Canberra program, maintains the standard set by her very successful debut production, Six Women Standing in Front of a White Wall. A quick internet search will reveal the extent of awards the production received internationally. Miller’s production of Cordelia successfully engages your senses to surpass a detached viewing of theatre, imploring the audience to be a guest at King Lear’s castle. As a guest we are enthralled by the grandeur of the place and its opulence, while marvelling at the celebrity of the hosts. However, we also squirm as the closets open to reveal the darkness we all share.
The cast are strong and experienced with highlights going to a few. These include Hadley (no surname) as the King of France, our MC who commands and endears with his voice and french slapstick physicality. Hadley manages to focus and compel the audience to weave in and out of the sisters’ own stories. Peta Ward as Regan is unflinchingly the middle sibling. Noa Rotem is utterly engaging as Cordelia. In the final scene Noa Rotem raises the whole performance to great heights as she deals with the first scene of Shakespeare’s King Lear bringing many of the audience to tears.
This production currently relies too heavily on its soundtrack and lacks some detail in the physicality, an opportunity presented by the exceptional young cast. It is clear, however, that Cordelia is well on its way to standing steadily in the midst of great contemporary performance theatre.
In the foyer, younger audiences were enthralled by this production, while seasoned theatre goer’s enjoyed Cordelia as a sturdy and beautiful bridge between the standard play and performance theatre. For those aware of the previous production, Six Women Standing in Front of a White Wall, and awaiting Little Dove Theatre’s next venture, you should be very happy with subsequent staging of Cordelia. I eagerly look forward to seeing it again as a further refined work of theatre art. 3 – 5 November 2011The Street Theatre, Canberrawww.thestreet.org.au
Dene KermondAussieTheatre.com Canberra Coordinator Dene has over 25 years’ experience in Australian theatre and screen as an actor, director and lecturer. Credits include Muriel’s Wedding, Les Miserables (Cameron Macintosh), All My Sons (Sydney Theatre Company), Waiter’s On Tap and ANZ ‘security campaign’. He is currently writing and directing for his own company, Slap. Dene can also be seen collaborating with the new Canberra based collective, Peoples Republic of Theatre.