press reviews

Just home from Lipsynch

I need a drink, a cry, a sleep or a dance before I can begin a coherent response, but can I simply say that the reason why people like me criticise theatre is because theatre this exquisite exists.

At the end I was somehow emotionally wrung out and elated.  (Make sure you have tissues.)

My friends and I couldn't stop talking about what we'd just experienced.

There were times when the audience were barely breathing and I've never seen a whole room gets to its feet in such unison to cheer.

LePage and company were last in Melbourne in 2010 with The Blue Dragon. I loved it and didn't understand the criticism of other reviews. Now I do, and if I'd seen Dragon after experiencing Lipsynch, I'd have been disappointed.

Yes, it's nine hours, but so is a day at work or nine eps of a TV series. There are plenty of breaks and I swear there was no one in that audience who wouldn't have happily sat for another nine hours.

Yes, it's expensive, but the cheaper tickets aren't much more than the MTC or the opera and it's like comparing a Fredo Frog to a hand-made Belgium chocolate decorated with gold leaf.

If you're involved in making theatre or telling stories in any way, do what you can to see this show, even if it's just to understand why critics are happy to criticise.

Arts Centre, with so many empty seats (shame on you Melbourne), is there something that can be done to get our arts community into them?

Anne-Marie Sometimes Melbourne

WHEN Robert Lepage's sprawling theatrical narrative, Lipsynch, begins aboard a plane from Germany to Montreal, the audience simultaneously embarks on a nine-hour, transcontinental, multi-lingual journey through the lives of nine characters.

During six acts, we are voyeurs peering into the intimate worlds of these loosely connected people, often literally observing them through windows and doors.

The transformational set design (Jean Hazel) constantly changes locations - from a Lufthansa jet to a London train, a Nicaraguan cantina, 1940s Vienna, a film set, a BBC radio studio and a Hamburg brothel.

The backstage mechanics of the theatre are revealed, becoming part of the dramatic narrative as black-clad stagehands swiftly and magically manipulate the versatile design.

The main narrative stream concerns German opera singer, Ada Weber (Rebecca Blankenship), who discovers teenage prostitute, Lupe (Nuria Garcia), dead on her plane to Montreal with baby, Jeremy (Rick Miller), crying in her arms.

The stories of other characters branch off like tributaries, while some flow back to the main narrative and others remain incidental.

As in previous Lepage shows, elaborate video projections feature, but in Lipsynch, language and the human voice, both speaking and singing, are the primary focus for the performers as they delve into their characters' emotional, psychological and physical lives.

Although the dialogue is not poetic or lyrical - in fact it is often banal - the gentle, storytelling style that verges on melodrama and soap opera has its own lyricism and poignancy as well as often being hilarious.

Lipsynch is a morality tale with flawed, ordinary people whose failed relationships, losses and loves we witness as a passing parade, until the final denouement about Lupe's terrible fate tells us whodunnit.

At the heart of the story is the earth mother, Ada, who not only rescues Jeremy from his dead mother's arms but also salvages Lupe's heritage and reputation.

All the performances are masterly, with each actor not only playing a key character but also playing smaller roles and singing.

It may take nine hours, but the journey is somehow soothing and satisfying as we make friends with these people who are simply trying to make sense of their world. Just as we do.


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LIPSYNCH
Ex Machina (Canada) & Theatre Sans Frontieres (UK)
State Theatre, Saturday and Sunday (August 11 and 12) from 1pm
Stars: 4½

Kate Herbert Herald Sun

Brilliantly inventive staging, movement and song. Loads of positive energy and the audience left feeling uplifted. Very funny!

Audience member, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal about Les Trois Mousquetaires

It was filled with imaginative staging and evocative music. The black-clad spirits, the bed-sheet cinema screen, the ominous birds, the stylised costumes all helped to make the piece accessible to English ears and eyes.

Michael Gray's Arts Blog, about Lorca: Amor en el Jardín

For me the show was a delight. I loved inventiveness of the sets, the costumes and the music. I thought the adaptation was fabulous.

Audience member, Northern Stage, Newcastle about Lorca: Amor en el Jardín

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Get in touch with Alison Maw E: alison@tsf.org.uk