Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Street: Bare Witness (fortyfivedownstairs)

Mari Lourey's script about war correspondent Dani Hayes is transcended by its execution at the hands  of a talented cast, innovative director Nadja Kostich, and the lighting design by Emma Valente.

I wasn't that crazy about the script, taken alone. The story of a photojournalist learning her craft in assorted war-torn hells on earth isn't all that new (think of the various incarnations of the Daniel Pearl story), and at times is even a little patronising (vide a somewhat self-righteous claim that no one in Australia knows or cares about the Balibo Five). However it does bring a finely-crafted consciousness of the moral issues of whether it's OK to grow rich and famous from other people's tragedy, especially given that those people desperately need to have their tragedy known. Is it OK, we're asked explicitly, to re-pose a corpse for a photo shoot: is that fakery, or a way to get the truth across more urgently?  The answer remains ambiguous -well, of course it does.

The play told in a stylised and precisely choreographed fashion, anchored by a remarkable physical performance by Daniela Farinaci as Dani. The story is told in vignettes framed by photographs Dani has taken, projected on the wall; other video is also used, notably of running wolves. The whole cast is versatile, everyone but Farinaci playing multiple roles at breakneck speed, and completely committed, physically and emotionally.

This is a powerful production with a lot to say, and even if not all of it is new, it is impressive in the telling.

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