If Resplendence asks a question, it is ‘where is society in dialogue with the dislocated male?’
Angus Cerini. Image by Sebastian Bourges.
This year’s Melbourne Theatre Company Neon Festival of Independent Theatre series takes a broad look at the genders’ clashing with five companies proudly stamping their mark on their own productions.
Doubletap company and Angus Cerini’s solo performance in Resplendence continues the company’s work which explores aspects of contemporary western masculinity.
Resplendence opens to a miserable twitching figure seated on an illuminated rectangular stage. Throughout the piece, his turmoil is so confronting that we hope his menacing figure stays contained there.
Pinned down by a stark light, Cerini’s figure angrily croons a fractured poetic/prose. Incanting ‘every night, the same old stink’, he descends into dialogue with objects in his all-too-familiar home environment. At times the text is overlaid with pre-recorded spoken word to further compound the darker moments.
Isolated, depressed and in a haze, Cerini’s increasingly unhinged character invokes for me Robert de Niro drawing a gun and menacing his own reflection in Taxi Driver: ‘You talkin’ to me?’
Finally rising from his chair, the character inches awkwardly on toes across stage. But really he is out on the town and on the attack, against migrants, his ex-partner and a corrupt system. This figure is perhaps seeking a reunion with his former self, but is disrupted and forced to empathise with another, facing a tragedy greater than his own. Further disturbed by these events, where does Cerini’s gaze turn? Yes, it is upon us!
Cerini’s threatening character reminds me of the late night train trip, the drunk guy who we realize too late, we are stuck with as the train enters the darkness of the underground rail network. Cerini’s figure plays from stasis through perilous states of mind, while buffeted by a torrid sound-scape. Ironically Resplendence feels like a contemporary version of the heroes journey, the outsider framed in an unfavorable life, struggling to preserve the architecture of his mind.
The minimal lighting pierces then supports Cerini’s trembling figure in an apparently vast and negative space. The dance and acting combination strike existential cords, presenting the physicality of psychic estrangement with elegant and taut detail. When this tormented figure has gone full circle and is re-seated, the audience takes a collective breath. Finally back at home, but to an emptier environment, the character toys with even dark shades of his imagination.
If Resplendence asks a question, it is ‘where is society in dialogue with the dislocated male?’ There is little that is splendid in Resplendence, but there are intricate forces at play as the audience are taken by Cerini on a dark adventure of the soul.
As this breathtaking piece closes, the audience drops from their suspended disbelief back to earth. We recover a respectable comfort as Cerini takes three bows.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Doubletap / Angus Cerini
The Lawler, Southbank Theatre, Southbank
Melbourne Theatre Company Neon Festival of Independent Theatre
First published on
What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level