The House of Illusions
Mechanical shadows genuflecting in the darkness, bodies that ripple like drops of water moved by an impish hand, a trial by combat that loses itself in the formality of an arbitrary authority, the machinery of History that grunts and crunches and blow men down, all this and more, in Efi Birba’s Richard II.
Ombre meccaniche che si genuflettono nell’oscurità, corpi che si increspano come gocce d’acqua smosse da una mano birichina, un duello ordalico che si perde nelle formalità di un autorità arbitraria, gli ingranaggi della Storia che grugniscono e scricchiolano e abbattono gli uomini. Tutto questo e molto ancora nel Riccardo II di Efi Birba.
Μηχανικές σκιές που υποκλίνονται στο σκοτάδι, σώματα που κυματίζουν σαν σταγόνες νερού πειραγμένες από ένα παιχνιδιάρικο χέρι, μια δίκη διά μονομαχίας που χάνεται στην τυπικότητα μιας αυθαίρετης εξουσίας, ο τροχός της Ιστορίας που μουγκρίζει και τραγανίζει και γκρεμίζει τους ανθρώπους. Όλα αυτά και περισσότερα, στον Ριχάρδος Β’ της Έφη Μπίρμπα.
Vasistas with Domino, Efi Birba with Efthimis Filippou’s Our beautiful hands, Dimitris Karantzas with Harold Pinter ‘s Ashes to Ashes and the Kinitiras / Ek-plixi group with My own fish showcase, these four plays presented in the 2015-2016 season marked the beginning of the Rēs Ratio Network’s journey into the «re-definition of the performative art itself. The thing and the word, the body and the trauma, the living presence constitute the landmarks of a code that is capable of forming a language for a performative art in the making». The sixth creation of the team – a web of people rather than a theatre company – researches the limits of action and representation, pushing the boundaries of all that is classic and familiar.
Thus, the King becomes a mere body moved and inflated by an idea of authority which is constantly undermined by fear, sadness, doubt and a whole plethora of emotions which are all too human to fit in a kingdom of formalities. He insistently reminds himself of his own role with tender desperation, relentlessly falling into a downward spiral that will lead to his abdication and his mortal death.
With an astounding creative eye, Efi Birba shows us not only that the King is naked, but that he’s as much a slave of events as anyone else is. He moves about with overblown gait, constrained by his golden armour, unable to free himself from the noose of kingship. «For you have but mistook me all this while:/I live with bread like you, feel want,/Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,/How can you say to me, I am a king?». Amidst rushes and loudhailer, King Richard II plays along in the dance of life, serving as a rock where all the other characters come crushing on, exquisitely mixing contact improvisation and physical theatre in order to create a break in time and space in which we all hang, puppets of the greater being that is History. «The kingdom as a construction, as a clay moulded and shaped as a sphere, a fragile globus cruciger, the World in the hands of the King. The king falls. Title, property and power are violently detached from Richard’s face, pushing him to return to himself. The tragedy of awareness, of a world liberated from illusion».
«Have I no friend will rid me of this living fear?», wonders the King on his deathbed. The last words of the play highlight once again what has been probably the most surprising and elating feature of this production that finally gives meaning to the word “research”: the liberation from the text. «Every textual material constitutes a field as well as a tool. What is necessary each time, at their every venture, is that the special significance of these texts is brought to light with precision, in the present tense». There is very little “Shakespeare” in this Richard II, and a whole lot of Shakespeare, too. The historical plot shrinks to a few quotes which are expanded and magnified with the lens of the human body, a living tool that defines itself through actions – both spontaneous and imposed – and reactions, perpetuating its liquid existence in this house of illusions we call society.
The show was played in
Ethnikis Aminis 2, Thessaloniki
from Tuesday 15 to Sunday 19 November 2017
Rēs Ratio Network presents
Richard II – Ριχάρδος Β’
by William Shakespeare
conception, direction, stage design, costumes Efi Birba
performers Nikos Kamontos, Hermes Malkotsis, Aris Serbetalis, Ioanna Toumpari, Achilleas Harriskos
lighting Thimios Bakatakis
sound design Coti K.
artistic collaborator-editing of texts Mihailla Ploplia
artistic director, assistant director Sofia Georgovasilis
artistic partner, scenery and costume designer Aleya Papageorgiou
artistic collaborator, special scenography constructions Socrates Papadopoulos
assistant director, management of electronic material Mariana Hellen
running costumes Tsouknida
pictures George Kaplanidis
video and teaser performance Grigoris Panopoulos, Makeyourownfilms