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Posts Tagged ‘Bombo’

I loved everything about this play and it’s extraordinary production. Inspired by a recent discovery of cave paintings in Indonesia, it’s part life story, part history lesson, part detective story and a commentary on education and cultural appropriation. It packed a lot into ninety minutes whilst managing to be funny, moving and entertaining.

We start in a primary school in Indonesia where a new young keen Scottish teacher’s creative methods look set to clash with the conservatism of the Head Teacher. He begins to inspire 8-year-old Elise. We meet Elise again when she’s 25, and here we’re offered a number of alternative futures, some inspired by her parents, French mum and Indonesian dad, some by her teacher. One of them is as a paleo-archaeologist seeking to research across boundaries that also include linguistics, which brings about a conflict with her French university professors. Finally we meet her at 43, reconciled with Marie-Claude, her university professor, who seeks to use her, but ends up learning from her.

There are so many threads interwoven in its non-linear narrative. Given it doesn’t have a single writer – it’s a collective – it’s dramaturgically very clear, though I didn’t clock that the characters included Elise’s parents. The staging too is very effective in presenting the structure of the story, with people on and above the stage who descend like climbers. There is much use of projection and you wear headphones throughout, which helps create the atmosphere of locations like caves, but also aids concentration. I was enthralled throughout; it didn’t lose me for a moment.

It’s a collaboration between the UK’s curious directive and Indonesia’s Bombo under the impeccable direction of Jack Lowe. It’s beautifully performed by Amanda Hadinghue, Asha Sylvestre, Lewis Mackinnon, Mohamad Faizal Abdullah, Sarita Gabony and Stephanie Street with an extraordinary performance from Farah Qadir as 8-year-old Elise. The excellent design by Zoe Hurwitz constitutes the eighth performance.

It finishes at the New Diorama this week, but work of this quality must surely have a life beyond this.

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