Instructions for an Imaginary Man

Various People. Old Adelaide Gaol. 7 Mar 2012

The prisoner is curled up foetus-like on the bare cold floor separated from the audience by a cell wall of gauze.  The opposite wall is also a screen obscuring the musicians and voice artists like they didn’t matter.  The other boundaries of the cubicle are the real ones – the substantial concrete cell block walls of the execution building of H.M. Adelaide Gaol. 

This work comprises several poems written by prisoners of conscience from around the globe sung with haunting evocation by baritone Nigel Cliffe and creative producer/mezzo soprano Cheryl Pickering.  Richard Chew’s beautiful composition seemed to arrange the poems much the same without reflecting the diversity of the poets.

Chiaroscuro lighting suitably conveyed austerity.  Prisoner Number 1, played by deviser Graeme Rose, suffered not only from solitudinal deprivation, but from his self-direction which resulted in only the shallowest exploration of unjust incarceration.  His generally unstressed demeanor, mechanical perambulations, forced tableaus and lack of emotive power could not convey what was needed.

In the end, he only had to try the cell door and leave the stage – he should have tried earlier.     

David Grybowski

When: 6 to 11 Mar
Where: Adelaide Gaol