Monday 24 September 2018

Beasts - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

In 1974, three sisters were found dead in the desert region of Chile. They were tied together at the waist and hung near their home. To this day, speculation still exists as to what happened to them; if this was a suicide pact or something more sinister. Beasts tells the story of these sisters while also highlighting their struggle of holding on to what was dear to them when faced with roadblocks at every turn.

Alejandra Marin, Maria Paula Afanador and Samantha Urquijo-Garciaare portray the Quispe sisters, and they deliver strong performances, conveying much emotion and feeling through their body language and movement. Each actor shows the conflict that these sisters is experiencing, which while they each respond to it differently ultimately reach the same devastating end. 

At one point, the sisters discuss how the world outside of their land has changed as they attempt to explain the modern wonders of electricity and television to each other. They are later pressured by a trader to swap their warm, functional clothing for lighter, brighter clothes that people are embracing. This constant push-pull on tradition and modernisation leaves us questioning who the 'beasts' of this story actually are.
Juan Radrigan's writing flows like poetry and creates such striking imagery in your mind that director Jaime Wilson-Ramirez's has wisely allowed for moments to play out without being rushed and give the audience time to fully appreciate and understand the lives these women led. Unfortunately the decision to perform silhouetted scenes behind a white cloth detracts from the intimacy and would have been better to have these scenes performed where the audience can see the actors. 

The story takes place inside the home of the sisters and with the use of a few select set pieces, The Bridge has successfully depicted the harsh environment that the sisters face on a daily basis. However the window with the landscape views projected on to it felt out of place. For a play focusing on people struggling to hold on to their culture and way of life, it removes us from the world we are watching. Similarly, the music by Abraham Dunovits is quite jarring and distracts from the themes of loneliness and isolation that are being explored.

Beasts is the tragic and true story of three people who could not - or would not - settle to live in a society that went against their morals and beliefs. It is also a rare opportunity to hear a story from a country and culture that we don't often hear about. Radrigan's poignant writing, and this production, leaves the audience to consider how does a person hold on to their culture when everything around them is determined to let it go?
Show Information

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 349 Drummond St, Carlton 
Season: Until 30 September | Wed 6.30pm, Thurs - Sat 7:30pm, Sun 4:00pm
Length: 105 minutes 

Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: La Mama Theatre

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