Cinematic and theatrical

Sectioned in a psychiatric hospital after a failed suicide attempt, Harry Kellerman enters a world of time travel and delusion. Obsessing over string theory and the notion of existence, Harry lives in a fictional world: Where are the wife and child he speaks of? Do they even exist?

Kellerman, Imitating the Dog’s latest show, places the physical realities of death, illness, sex and birth within a metaphysical landscape of illusion and psychosis.

This paradox is complemented effectively through the use of filmic technique and projection which obscure the boundaries of reality; in the opening scene Harry runs naked through a projected, moving forest. We see the human anatomy in all its glory lost in a vortex of computerised images.

Andrew Quick, writer and director, describes the play as both cinematic and theatrical – a new hybrid form of entertainment which is created for a society who thrive on screens. Laura Hopkins’ innovative set is a series of screens upon which animated characters, galactic landscapes, memoriesand star constellations are projected intermitantly.

Impressive? Certainly. But is this technologically vamped up genre of theatre reductive in a sense? Should theatre be a place we can go toescape enforced images and let our individual imaginations run riot? Quick acknowledges that this is a contentious issue and that Kellerman has received criticism for these reasons. If theatre and cinema are to marry and become a new form of entertainment, a balance between them must be reached. This is something which Kellerman doesn’t achieve.

The action in the play is dense andcomplex, but amongst all the drama and cinematic technique we remain detached. The actors gave strong performances but were submerged in Hopkins’ masterpiece, largely because the narrative did not measure up.

Quick acknowledged that the script is a weakness of the play but that as a writer he didn’t ‘care’ that the enhanced visuals detracted from the story itself. Curious considering the company promote themselves as interested in the role of ‘narrative in the contemporary theatrical experience’.

Imitating the Dog has created a scintillating visual display whichpushes at theatrical boundaries. Moments when the theatrical and cinematic work alongside one another are charismatic, and, with work, the play could mature into something very special.

For the moment, however, it remains rather awkward; a firework show of bangs and whoopswhich leaves our senses affronted but our emotions untouched.


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