A story as familiar as storytelling itself, it is hard to imagine there is anything left to be said about, or perhaps more importantly, anything left to be learnt from Eve’s infamous act of rebellion and humanity’s fall from grace. Set across three seemingly disparate but also connected acts, Lady Eats Apple juxtaposes scenes of banal normality with a tale of epic creation.
And yet, the story we all know is told in a way we have never been taught to consider it. We watch as Scott Price plays God – thunderingly self-assured as he creates heaven and earth and begins to name the creatures that will inhabit it, but then intermittently hesitant and unsure as he speaks with his unnamed mentor, played by Brian Lipson. Desperately demanding to be taken seriously, he is momentarily placated by Brian’s encouragement: “God is doing a great job”, he is told. But it is not enough, and so Price brings forth Adam and Eve. The dual narratives in this first act, and in particular Brian’s wry commentary, intensifies our sense of God’s swaggering insecurity. “Do not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil or you will die,” he bellows. “You don’t think that might be too complex a phrase?” Brian retorts. It is in moments like this that Lady Eats Apple shines, and we as an audience are forced to confront and consider the all too human conflicts of power, sex, and responsibility as the performance destabilises our understanding of the creation narrative.
At first the highly charged yet clinical interactions we see in the first act bear little resemblance to the subtle flickers of warmth we see in Adam and Eve’s exchanges after the Fall. The epic has been replaced by the mundane. Yet slowly, the faint delicate actions of a new intimacy draw us into the play’s final act in a rather extraordinary way. The binaural headphone experience facilitates our intrusion on Adam and Eve’s intimate moments, their subtlety made all the more palpable by the grandeur that comes before in act two, the powerful, hypnotic interlude signifying the expulsion from Eden. Here the headsets take on another purpose entirely as thunderous roars and swirling white noise accompany the audience on what feels like an epic lapsarian journey through darkness and obscure visual projections reminiscent of Kubrick’s 2001. The formidable combination of Marco Cher-Gibard’s sonic experimentation and Mark Cuthbertson’s breathtaking set design is outstanding here, it is impossible not to get caught up in the sensation of complete destruction as the ocular space collapses around you, and what is known disappears entirely.
This stunning audio-visual experience undoubtedly contributes to the sense that the first and final acts we are faced with simply do not belong. And yet, the knowledge of sex, power, and responsibility looms throughout, and the nagging phone calls Brian receives from his wife in the first act parallel the heated arguments about car licences and promotions in the final scenes. The searing self-doubt God experiences shares something with the awkwardness, the cautiousness, of the romantic interactions seen later between Adam and Eve. Intimate, powerful recreations of human experience are displayed in this production, and Back to Back Theatre’s retelling of the story of how we came to be, leaves us with a better understanding of what we are.
Review by Ben Miller
Enter an inflatable universe for a tale of creation and chaos in which the epic and every day, mythic and mundane coexist.
One of the most exciting and urgent companies in contemporary theatre today, Australia’s Back to Back Theatre is driven by an ensemble of actors with perceived intellectual disabilities who devise and perform the work. With binaural sound design and visuals used to ingenious effect, Lady Eats Apple is an experiential production that exposes us to the ‘fragility of existence’ while challenging the assumptions we hold about others and ourselves.
Friday 15th June 2018