Pigman’s Lament

Pigmans Lament Canberra 2016By Raoul Craemer. The Street Theatre. 25 Jun 2016

 

Writer Maya Angelou was quoted as saying that “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – when one doesn’t understand what someone is trying to say, it makes one feel frustrated.

 

This autobiographical play, written and performed by Raoul Craemer, explores his complex relationship with his nationalistic German paternal grandfather. Already struggling to accept Craemer’s Indian heritage from his mother’s side, his grandfather unleashes his vitriol when family secrets begin to unravel.

 

While there is nothing wrong with a play being a little cryptic, there is a threshold beyond which it becomes too much work. Audiences are often willing to meet a performer halfway, but when the burden to decode meaning becomes too great it’s hard not to switch off.

 

There is no doubt that Raoul’s family history is compelling – but it would be much more interesting if it were told in a less obscure and stream of consciousness-type way. In this sense, Pigman’s Lament comes across as unprocessed; a bunch of rambling, random thoughts that have not yet formed a cohesive story.

 

Adding to the frustration are production issues regarding the line of sight, with Craemer often disappearing out of view to the floor for sizeable chunks of time. With the dialogue difficult enough to follow as it is, having a seemingly abandoned stage to contend with just exacerbates the situation further.

 

However, a highlight of Pigman’s Lament is the lighting (by Gillian Schwab) and set design (by Christiane Nowak), that facilitates some nightmarish, Hitchcock-esque special effects for the intense moments of confrontation between Craemer and his grandfather.

 

There are so many potential points of interest to the diverse ACT audience left unexplored in this production. With such rich material to work with, it is a shame that the play ignores these and instead succumbs to rampant introspection. A bigger picture perspective on these life events may have done the trick.

 

Deborah Hawke

 

When: 24 Jun to 3 Jul

Where: The Street Theatre

Bookings: thestree.org.au

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