Goodbye, Lindita

Goodbye Lindita Adelaide Festival 2024Adelaide Festival. Dunstan Playhouse. 29 Feb 2024


In a sparsely-furnished, grey-walled room, a family sits around a glowing television. A woman slumbers in the double bed. A man folds clothes. The tinny sound of the tv bounces around the room. Dogs bark, traffic hoots and rumbles. The familial rhythms lull us into quiet observation. But gently, almost imperceptibly, the quotidian calm begins to vibrate with uncertainty. A black woman appears at the window, singing, a woman cries loudly then retreats into soft weeping.


A cabinet is wheeled to centre stage. It opens to reveal the lifeless, naked body of a young woman. The family gathers around her, smearing her with soil, then lifting her body centre stage, where she is washed, clothed in her unworn wedding dress, and surrounded by flowers. From here, we watch the family cycle through rituals of death and sorrow, some intimate, some solitary, some raw and scarifying.


Greek-Albanian director and creator Mario Banushi’s astonishingly assured second production meditates on the spinning, battling contradictions of grief. Inspired by deaths within his immediate family, Goodbye, Lindita is a profound and muscular insight into the unpredictability and elusive nature of sadness. It soothes and unsettles us. The piece is entirely wordless, constructed with progressing tableaux, as the emotional pitch of the performance shifts disconcertingly into turmoil and moments of chaos.


Banushi is assisted by a mesmerising score and sound design (by Emmanouel Rovithis), that moves from urban soundscape, through folk singing, to grating, buzzing interjections of noise. The sound tracks the changing emotional pitch of the scenes with brilliant effect. The lighting, too, (by Tasos Palaioroutas) is evocative: by turns murky, soft, and amber-hued like a Renaissance painting, bright and direct, and swirling mysteriously through fog.


The performance, at just over an hour’s duration, is perfectly paced, moving from modest, almost dull action into something monumental and emotionally jarring.


The scenes are precisely crafted and observed with unerring accuracy and compassion. That said, despite the undoubted meticulous creative process, there is no sense of artifice – it feels natural and organic. The images are both beautiful and confronting. There are moments of gentle intimacy – the family clustered around the television with the silent corpse, a belly-laugh coinciding with another’s wail of pain, and the exquisitely confronting washing of the naked corpse. Equally, we see moments of almost pagan turmoil, as the sisters shed their clothes and convulse in a frenzy. The spiritual world is near, but obscure: a black Madonna icon on the wall gives way to a portal to the unknown, a disembodied hand reaches through a wall to give comfort.


This is a beautiful, moving and powerful highlight of the Festival program.


John Wells


When: 29 Feb to 3 Mar 2024

Where: Dunstan Playhouse