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I only managed to catch the very tail end of WTF12 at Brisbane Powerhouse, but I’m so glad I did. We saw The Lady from the Sea and Shabana Rehman.

The Lady from the Sea

This multimedia work is an Indian-Australian coproduction based on a Norwegian play by Henrik Ibsen. Very world-theatre indeed! Brisbane band Topology provides the live soundtrack — a real treat — while Abhinaya Theatre Company produces the play itself. Clever lighting design and a sand-covered stage effectively take the Brisbane Powerhouse underwater — a setting I loved. With surreal animations, subtitles (from Malayalam), eye-headed creatures, and the players themselves, there is always something to look at. The script, at its best, is pure poetry; at its worst, it is repetitive, slow-paced dialogue. Something of a dreamscape meditation on Ibsen’s themes, The Lady from the Sea is at times too disconnected from its source material to be comprehensible. Nonetheless, it’s an intriguing journey back to the ocean.

Semicolon rating: ; ; ;

For Kingdom and Fatherland: A One-Woman Performance

Shabana Rehman is very famous — in Norway. The kingdom’s first female, Muslim comedian, controversy has always followed in her wake. Curiously, she did but one  show at WTF12 — and free, too. We expected straight comedy, but in fact we got something even better: Rehman’s life story. A very eloquent performer, Rehman holds her audience in the palm of her hand; her tale is by turns hilarious and heart-wrenching — and certainly confronting. She tells of her beloved family, her travels, her troubled past, the abuses she has suffered (trigger warning, FYI), and the ways in which she has fought back against both her detractors and her own anxieties. After chatting with Rehman for Rave Magazine, I was so glad that I caught this strong-willed, bright-eyed performer in action at her only Brisbane show.

Semicolon rating: ; ; ; ; :

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