Palmyra Adelaide Festival 2019Adelaide Festival. AC Arts Main Theatre. 2 Mar 2019


“The metaphor escaped me,” wailed an audience member as she trooped out of Palmyra.

“Wait to read the reviews,” recommended her companion.

The audience not only left Palmyra perplexed, but it left in dribs and drabs, uncertain as to whether the show was actually over or not.


There is a lot of silence in Palmyra and the silence speaks, albeit in code.

Two actors inhabit the black stage in the black auditorium. Much of the time, they do so in silence. They are on standoff, one against the other. They are frenemiies. Sometimes rather psychotic ones. They demolish white plates and they demolish the fourth wall. They seek sides from the audience. The Frenchman seeks audience sympathy. Look after this hammer and don’t let his mad friend Nasi have it.

But who is the mad one? Nasi Voutsas or Bertrand Lesca?

The audience learns that it should not stay mute. It may call the tune. Silences are long. Interjections are entertaining.

The source of antagonism between the men is a mystery. What is their relationship? Why the tension and destructiveness.

There are flashes of humour. There’s an air of absurdism. There is a sense of fatalism, cruelty, and unpredictability.

It is one of those pieces of Festival theatre which is so far outside the bounds of conventional expectation that its crashing shards of black and white aesthetics sear into mind’s eye and one knows they are there to stay and, from time to time, to be mooted.


The metaphor? Poor Palmyra, the eponymous city in Syria. Invaded and shattered, Reborn. Shattered again. Betrayed. Who can be trusted? A landscape in ruins.

War is hell. Political relationships are fragile.


Samela Harris


When: 2 to 5 Mar

Where: AC Arts Main Theatre


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