24 October 2013


Daniel Schlusser Ensemble, Theatre Works, Melbourne Festival
11 October 2013
Theatre Works
to 16 October

One very exciting thing about creative director Josephine Ridge’s first Melbourne Festival is the number of local commissions, including M+M by the Daniel Schlusser Ensemble.

Words are inadequate to describe Schlusser’s work. “Wow!” doesn’t come near.

He takes known texts (in this case The Master and the Margarita by Russian Mikhail Bulgakov, written 1928–40), strips their words and context, and re-creates them as something utterly new, but still recognisable as the original.

I haven’t read Bulgakov, but M+M is like a trip into his mind and soul. After all, great writers know that people rarely remember their words, but they never forget how those words made them feel.

M+M is political and deeply personal, but it’s made from emotion. Without a clear narrative, it’s challenging to find a way into the work, which is set in an asylum or a prison, but the extraordinary cast offer so many stories that it’s easy to find ones that are mesmerising.

With cats, crucifixions, balloons and a crack-wax, its darkness is intense and its spectacle is confronting, but there’s hope and laughs and the feeling that this world-gone-mad isn’t that far from our own.

This first appeared on issimomag.com.

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