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Year 2000 / 2004       Location Brisbane

Director's Notes

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Rashomon is a story made famous in the 1951 classic film by acclaimed Japanese film director, Akira Kurosawa. Based on a short story by Japanese author Akutagawa, it tells the tale of an encounter between a robber, a traveller and his wife.

All three give their version of an encounter on a mountain track which alters their lives forever. In a series of conflicting statements the protagonists undermine our confidence in distinguishing between subjective and objective, truth and fiction.

This intriguing short story by Akutagawa is story-telling of an unconventional sort.....' Akutagawa is a satirical writer with a delicate Chaplin-esque quality in which illusion and reality are blended in a kind of fairytale surrealism......clear-eyed glimpses of human behaviour in the extremities of stupidity, greed, vanity......' (James Kelly, New York Times) and is a story which has strong resonances that cross cultural boundaries. Satire, irony and humour are added by the peripheral characters who comment on the action.

Frank Theatre's actors, through their rigorous training in the Suzuki Actor Training Method, are equipped to express, through sound and movement, those impulses which waver on the borderline between dream and reality. This is story-telling of exceptional quality. Audiences will continue to deliberate on the verdict well after the performance has finished.

"...the melding of a classic story with pop culture and postmodernism; the lavish minimalism of a sparse set combined with sumptuous costumes; magical lighting by David Lee; director Jacqui Carroll’s witty and provocative textual adaptation and the Suzuki method that informs each actor’s arresting performance. Steeped in tradition, Frank Theatre continue to produce work that is utterly contemporary, and this rendition of Rashomon for the 2004 Brisbane Festival is no exception."
Campus News 2004

"...the eclectic content of this production, the overt stylization, the comedy, the movement, and the audience as judge aspect. ……a fitting piece for the Energex Festival as it shows the energy and creativity that is present in local theatre companies."
M/C Review 2004

"As in all Frank works, this is a rich multi-layered piece, brilliant in its conception and its realisation.

Jacqui Carroll....aims to challenge, to stimulate, excite and intrigue......to make such an impression that a Frank Theatre cannot be forgotten, whether loved or hated. The six (productions) presented since the enterprise began with a stylish Romance of Orpheus in 1993 have been intense, alarming, sophisticated, sculptural and commanding theatre.

...three charladies, entering and exiting as a Greek chorus...voicing the perennial human quest to discover "what does make sense"...

Not only are the rigorous gestures liquid in their mesmerising and silent glidings, and the actors developing individual vocal styles, but the element of humour... is in full bloom in this dark tale delivered with space for the imagination to fill in its own violent details from the elegant, powerful gestures of the characters."
Patricia Kelly, Courier Mail, December 6, 2000

"...Many of the known and loved Frank elements are here; the beautiful vocal and movement work......; the uses the reverberative, evocative melange of music is put to.......the backdrop bamboo curtain with its window-on-the-world openings.....

In ways both mystical and concrete Frank's version reinforces the idea that truth is ever absolute, that it is indeed in the eye of the beholder...

...Under the surface of vivid, absurdly-outfitted modern Mrs Mops lurk the charladies of Old London and the portentous three sisters - three witches - of Macbeth. There is a resonance to the production that is profoundly satisfying to the consciousness of the observer.

Performances are of the usual high standard. It actually hurts not to mention all the participants, but time may show that John Nobbs' presence as Tajomaru, Emma Pursey as the Medium and the skilled and witty work of Caroline Dunphy as head cleaner prove longest-lasting in the memory"
Mary Nemeth RAVE December 2000

"...the result is without doubt the most beautiful theatrical production seen in Brisbane this year.......

Here...the performers project the drama from the gut and from the earth beneath them. It creates an astonishing theatrical spectacle which continues to reverberate long after the stage event has concluded.

...As the homicidal bandit Tajomaru, John Nobbs establishes a dominant physical presence, his move focussed and powerful, filled with danger, intimidation and sensuality. As the morally compromised wife Lisa O'Neill gives a magnificent performance, still as a statue, porcelain-faced and yet simultaneously trembling with rage and passion. As her husband, Will Bligh brings another level of moral ambiguity, while Emma Pursey is striking as the Medium who conveys his posthumous testimony.

..It is a rare to find a production which is so painfully gorgeous to look at, yet so starkly passionate, intense and uncompromising at the same time. And it's rarer still for a theatre critic to attend a show twice, but I did on this occasion and that wasn't enough!"
Martin Buzacott The Australian December 2000
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