14 April 2012

Big and Small by Botho Strauss, translated by Martin Crimp

Lotte - Cate Blanchett
Old Woman - Lynette Curran
Inge/Karin - Anita Hegh
Woman/Meggy/Tent - Belinda McClory
Guitar Player/Boy - Josh McConville
Paul/Man with Shirts/Doctor - Robert Menzies
Fat Woman - Katrina Milosevic
Turkish Man - Yalın Özüçelik
Wilhelm/Offstage Lead Guitarist - Richard Piper
Alf/Jurgen - Richard Pyros
Girl/Josefina - Sophie Ross
Young Man/Albert/Man in Parka - Chris Ryan
Man/Bernd - Christopher Stollery
Old Man - Martin Vaughan

Directed by Benedict Andrews and designed by Johannes Schütz

My big theatrical cash outlay of the year, booked nearly six months ago in a moment of madness. Seen at The Barbican Theatre on press night, I had a good seat between a man with personal space issues and a lady with numeracy problems who should have known better since she was probably a journalist, judging by her annoying, scratchy pen.

Audience members of note: Martin Crimp, David Hare, Patrick Marber, Richard E Grant, Graham Norton, Tom Mison. I could go on.

I'm going to start by saying it was typically Australian disregard for propriety that allowed no less than four curtain calls, giving the show-offs in the audience a chance to get to their feet for a bit of grandstanding.

There are one or two overly showy moments in this piece but they're used to good effect.

Euan Ferguson's words in The Guardian give a pretty good appraisal.

It is long and seemingly rudderless but despite the mesmerising performance from Ms Blanchett, it feels like an organic ensemble piece, pirouetting around a glorious piece of set design that almost reaches Mnsr Lepage's level of ingenuity, simplicity and style.

I loved the proportions of the apartment building column and the simple, space transforming impression given by all those office desks. My geek button went right off at the sight of an Apple Classic sitting right next to a Stylewriter II. I have no idea why those pieces of paper were randomly falling from the fly but their faultless performance and the design honing clearly needed to achieve it was a joy to behold. Mention must also go to the glory and efficiency of Cate's varied wardrobe from the practical to the erotic. Nobody wears a Gaberdine like Ms Blanchett and to finally have it reveal what had previously been a pipe dream was gratifying.

The cast includes an adorably spry Lynette Curran and a tight group of fabulous theatre performers who slide in an out of their costume changes to impress a far larger troupe.

See it if you can and take a coffee back in with you after the half.