Anglo theatre: Back to Back Theatre’s «The Shadow Whose Pray the Hunter Becomes»: Moving Hearts
par Yanik Comeau (Comunik Média/ZoneCulture)
Australia’s Back to Back Theatre, kind of like Montreal’s Joe, Jack & John – also at Festival TransAmériques with its new piece Cispersonnages en quête d’auteurice – has made it one of its missions du bring neurodivergent artists to the forefront, to give «the different» or the oppressed a voice. After tackling perinatality, growthism, intimidation and cultural appropriation (the last with a show titled Ganesh Versus the Third Reich which came to FTA in 2013), the Geelong company brings us The Shadow Whose Pray the Hunter Becomes, created in September 2019 at Sydney’s Carriageworks.
Written by a collective of seven artists including director Bruce Gladwin and all three actors, the play’s premise pretexts a meeting of neurodiverse individuals coming together to help a mostly neurotypical audience understand their reality, the issues they live with on a daily basis… and moreover, the discrimination and horrors mentally disabled people have had to put up with as long as they have existed, i.e. forever.
Both hilariously funny and terribly poignant, The Shadow Whose Pray the Hunter Becomes seems like an assembly of oddballs from the get-go, something between Ionesco and Beckett, but quickly pivots and dives into such relevant, hard-hitting facts and personal experiences that the audience in drawn into the moving and captivating testimonials so honestly shared by all three charismatic and endearing actors.
Autistic Scott Price’s thick Australian accent (that he makes fun of himself during the show), Sarah Manwaring’s slow speech flow brought on by a head injury and Simon Laherty’s sometimes robotic delivery are all supported by voice-activated surtitles that the actors find practical as well as annoying and condescending. As a matter of fact, one of the show’s many great brilliant findings is the stars’ different types of interaction with this artificial intelligence device which is somewhat of a blessing in disguise but also a twisted crutch. If the show has one flaw, it is the fact that Luke Howard Trio’s brilliant music and Lachlan Carrick’s terrific sound design should be brought down a few notches which might allow the audience to not rely so much on either the English or French surtitles.
That being said, The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes’ powerful messages and brilliantly balanced here-and-now sweet, funny and moving autofiction and heart-wrenching servings of historical context should give you enough incentive to drive to Quebec City this upcoming weekend where the show will be featured at Théâtre La Bordée during the Carrefour international de Théâtre.
The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes
Produced by Back to Back Theatre
Written by Michael Chan, Mark Deans, Bruce Gladwin, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price and Sonia Teuben
Directed by Bruce Gladwin
Performed by Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price
Music: Luke Howard Trio – Daniel Farrugia, Luke Howard and Jonathon Zion
Sound Design: Lachlan Carrick
Lighting Design: Andrew Livingston (bluebottle)
Screen Design: Rhian Hinkley (lowercase)
Costume Design: Shio Otani
AI Voice Over: Belinda McClory
Script Consultant: Melissa Reeves
Creative Development: Michael Chan,Mark Cuthbertson, Mark Deans, Rhian Hinkley, Bruce Gladwin, Simon Laherty, Pippin Latham, Andrew Livingston, Sarah Mainwaring, Victoria Marshall, Scott Price, Brian Tilley and Sonia Teuben
Company Manager:Erin Watson
Production Manager: Bao Ngouansavanh
Executive Producer: Tim Stitz
Commissioned by Carriageworks (Sydney) + Theater der Welt 2020 (Düsseldorf) + The Keir Foundation (Sydney) + Thyne Reid Foundation (Sydney) + The Anthony Costa Foundation (Geelong)
With the support of Creative Partnerships Australia through Plus 1 + Geelong Arts Centre + Arts Centre Melbourne + Melbourne International Arts Festival + Une Parkinson Foundation + The Public Theater (New York) + ArtsEmerson (Boston)
May 26th at 7pm, May 27th at 5pm, May 28th (1 hour. No intermission)
Théâtre Prospero – salle intime, 1371 Ontario Street East, Montreal
Photos: Kira Kynd