Edinburgh Fringe 2010
The audience watch as LeBank embodies twenty-seven different characters all trying to remember and qualify their lives in order move out of the cramped no-place in which they find themselves. These characters range from a mentally backward boy from the deep south, to an American soldier killed in action, to a psychopath serial killer. The concept is that, in dying, we can loose sight of what we were and therefore remain in limbo.
LeBank hosts his afternoon show in a personal and intimate way; he is there to greet and chat to us on the stairs outside the performance space and personally bids goodbye to us when we leave. During the performance, he returns several times to the audience’s space (whether to sniff someone’s behind or to sit and chat intellectually). These elements, along with the small auditorium, combine in an attempt to convey the universality that LeBank is after; we all will die, we all will be faced with the same questioning of our past circumstance and the need to let go of our life.
LeBank’s performance is very impressive. He embodies the characters utterly, using both naturalistic and stylised movement to convey the personality shifts. A particularly effective moment emerges when one character describes his heinous killings of women whilst making love to them; the stylised movement sequence is repeated over and over while LeBank vocally embodies the next few characters. The performance also includes slam poetry, a movement originating in Chicago in the mid-1980’s, which is gratifying to listen to. Traditionally a medium through which to express political or racial issues with passion and expression, the slam poetry here builds a sense of climax although it is hard to tell exactly what is climaxing.
There were moments in this performance when I felt as though LeBank is so accomplished and well-educated in the performing arts (he is Head of Movement at the University of Montana) that this got in the way of the actual play. In other words, the movement, character changes and use of different theatrical and literary elements obscured the point of the piece. Had we not had access to the informative programme beforehand, I suspect there would have been several people who left thinking “fantastic performer… what was it about?” This is often the case with more ambitious conceptual theatre and, indeed, a little obscurity often adds to the overall effect. Here, however, I felt more clarity would have greatly enhanced the show.
This is very interesting show which nudges you into thinking about things that one usually avoids. LeBank must be commended for his focussed, controlled and talented performance and for attempting a theatrical piece based on this obscure philosophical concept. A good show for those especially interested in philosophy and theatre as a discipline.