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Scoop Fringe Review - Mu

Bats Theatre $10/$8/$6
March 20-21 7pm, March 27-28 7pm

The lack of any plot summary in the festival programme for Mu filled me with a dreadful foreboding of 'fringe festival syndrome' - where a group of non/performers get together and construct a performance based around a spontaneous fire and energy that under the glare of theatre lights struggles to stand up. This is Mu.

I am at a bit of loss to explain exactly what this play is meant to be about. There are two characters, one, a Scottish woman dressed all in white, rambles on pseudo-mystically about swimming underwater, looking for her friend and encountering giant squid. She alternates with the other character (this is presumably her friend, or as someone else suggested, the squid?) who sits in the middle of the stage, rolls his eyes back in his head and reverentially moans and groans in some pacific language of which I know not.

I realise with that last statement I have effectively cast aside my cultural safety net and am fluttering in the high breezes of daring to criticise 'cross-cultural' theatre in New Zealand, but frankly, if a play is bilingual and has a complete lack of theatrical energy to enlighten the non-speaker then I'd like to know about it before I shell out my $10.

If the bilinguism was a conscious choice made by the writer irrespective of the audiences ability to understand, then the director of Mu has forsaken their responsibilty to create a play whose characters and staging resonate with a sense of meaning that transcends the words spoken.

Attempts to imbue the performance with some sort of mystery through the use of vaguely ominous electronic music distracted from any sense of place and time conjured up by the script and staging.

The female character has a certain stage presence but altogether, in writing, performance and sound, Mu is vague, self-indulgent and possibly without any substance.

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