30 September 2006

Honour Bound

Honour Bound
Malthouse Theatre
15 Septembr 2006
Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse

Honour Bound is a powerful work of art and an impassioned exploration of the ongoing incarceration of David Hicks in the US detainment camp in Guantanamo Bay. Fuelled by anger, frustration and an overwhelming sense of injustice; its harrowing and brutal images express the unimaginable emotion, fear and horror experienced by David and his family.

Nigel Jamieson (direction, writing and co-design) and Garry Stewart (choreography) have approached the controversial subject with honesty and a determination to explore our community reaction to the removal of the human rights we value.

Honour Bound explores the art of storytelling by using digital media and pure physicality to create unforgettable images about the limits of human endurance. Its strength and horror build by dehumanising the performers, whist humanising David and his family.

David Hicks has been in Guantanamo Bay for five years. For 18 months he was kept in solitary confinement in a 6x9x7 foot metal cell. The cell was within a shed, so he never saw sunlight, and cameras eventually replaced his human guard. The production design is based on David’s reality in Guantanamo. A small cage sits within a larger one, family are unreachable images, words bring hope from the outside - but they are also an uncontrollable power that accuse, betray and lie. It is a world with no natural light, where touch is feared, where beliefs are shattered and hope is lost.

There is no conventional script; every word seen and heard is a published document, a transcript, a letter or a recording of a real person. We never hear David’s voice, but we hear his words, see photos of him and meet his father (Terry) and stepmother (Bev). The real Terry and Bev appear on film. They are the dignity, the soul and the reality of this story. The image of Terry Hicks projected on the cell that holds his son is not easy to forget, nor is his matter of fact description of the torture his son has endured.

This story is about physical and emotional limits. Stewart takes his six performers to their own physical limits. Through extremely demanding choreography he says, “their struggle becomes real rather than illustrated”. This isn’t pretty dance. It is movement as a physical expression of emotional and psychological reactions. They move like humans who cannot control their own bodies or caged animals prepared to do anything to escape. The extra element of aerial work and use of the climbable caged walls creates a further dimension of unnatural space and movement.

Honour Bound is an exceptional piece of theatre that should be seen, regardless of its subject matter. It is also theatre that should be seen, regardless of its artistry.

Supporting the production is a screening Curtis Levy’s award-winning documentary, "The President versus David Hicks" followed by the filmmaker’s personal reflections on the making of his film.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.