Malthouse Theatre Company / Ranters Theatre
Direction / Adriano Cortese
Text / Heather Bolton, Beth Buchanan, Adriano Cortese, Raimondo Cortese and Patrick Moffatt
With / Rosa Voto with Alessandra Barone, Natasha Colangelo, Tania Dionisio, Lucia Gareffa, Vincenzo De Simone, Joseph Sirianni and Ourania Vassis
Come Away with Me to the End of the World / invites you to listen in on a conversation between three people as they shape and reshape their physical and emotional selves.
This self-imposed quest takes them through shifting landscapes and climates, snow-topped mountain peaks and erupting volcanoes.
Structured as a series of intimate conversations, ranging from the prosaic to the beautiful, this production reaffirms Ranters Theatre as the masters of voyeuristic theatre. As we eavesdrop on these three figures, moments of eccentric dance and song erupt, and the disparity between their actual lives and their dreamed selves resonates intensely.
Conversation is at the core of this production. Not dialogue, but conversation. Ranters Theatre company have created a space of play and reflection both inclusive to the audience and each other. Performers Beth Buchanan and Patrick Moffatt held the gaze of their audience for a prolonged period of time before starting conversation amongst themselves. With glimpses to their audience every now and then, ‘Come Away With Me to the End of the World’ nods towards an immersive theatre experience for the audience but in a rhetorical sense. There was comfort knowing there wasn’t a physical expectation as an audience member, but a somewhat happy sensation to know that the conversation was inclusive of us not delivered TO us. Two became three soon after when Heather Bolton joined the stage as they picnicked and spoke of each others’ experiences, thoughts and ideas. The three performers chatted to each other about peculiar situations and experiences, with added dreams that stacked on top of each other like quirky speech bubbles. Like a pop-up book, Callum Morton’s set unfolded before us as the characters took us on a voyage of sites, sounds and discovery in a somewhat dream like state as they discussed their outlook on life, and their states of being.
What I found most intriguing about the way the three interacted with each other – and no doubt a purposeful move by director Adriano Cortese – was the baseline emotion that threaded consistently from the start to the end of the production.’Come Away With Me to the End of the World’ felt like an exploration work that didn’t apologise for its emphasis on raw human qualities. It was void of heavy emotional baggage, instead each performer carried a sense of freedom, self-acceptance and contentment with who they were. Being a collaborative work, I could not help but assume that part – if not all – of the conversations taking place were autobiographical snippets from the actors’ own lives. A standout moment for me was Heather Bolton’s direct conversation to her audience as she listed all her likes and dislikes, her qualities and flaws. Her vulnerability and unapologetic delivery struck my romantic inclinations towards the tenderness of our humanity; her honesty was relatable and tangible.
The naturalistic story sharing made this experience both intimate and heart warming. With all the spotlighted chaos and darkness currently occurring in our world, faith in humanity has become more of a burdensome question than a statement. It is so easy for contemporary theatre to naturally fall into reflecting dark and heavy topics. It was a relief to be offered the other end of the spectrum, lightness, joy and celebration.
Gentleness was the framework that shone for me from Adriano Cortese direction and the subtleness of lighting design by Govan Reuben and soundscape by David Franzke all elements marrying beautifully together generating a seamless rhythm, this made the moments when bursts of song, abstract costume, and dancing broke out so much more poignant, exciting and climatic.
In hindsight it wasn’t altogether clear to me what Ranters’ objective was in creating this piece of performance art meets theatre. It felt open to interpretation, playschool-esque for the soul and mind, as an audience member it became evident my engagement with this abstract style of story telling required my input of imagination, discovery and attention. The creative team and cast brought elements for us as the audience to play with, to build our own conversation from without themselves defining exactly what it was we were seeing in front of us. If this was their objective they succeeded.
‘Come Away With Me to the End of the World’ ever so gently reminded me how beautiful the individual is, and how complex, fun and at times comically absurd we are. A production that held no pretentiousness, ‘Come Away With Me to the End of the World’ was kind to the heart, and that is something both the cast and creative team should be proud to have achieved.