Theatre of the absurd comes to Creswick

Renowned avant-garde writer Samuel Beckett once famously penned that we are all born mad.

Some remain so: Creswick Theatre Company's Jenni Sewell, Peter Hanley, Mike Watts, Bruce Kronberger and Barb Watts. Picture: Dylan Burns

Some remain so: Creswick Theatre Company's Jenni Sewell, Peter Hanley, Mike Watts, Bruce Kronberger and Barb Watts. Picture: Dylan Burns

But if a new concept performance by Creswick Theatre Company mashing up elements of Beckett with Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury seems like madness, then there is method in it.

Director Tim Drylie, a former ABC assistant director, said the performance was different to the usual community theatre fare.

However, he said it would be an accessible and entertaining attempt to examine concepts pertaining to the human condition.

“It is a mash-up of sorts, but it’s a mash-up with some solid lumps in it. It has some context,” he said.

It is a mash-up of sorts, but it’s a mash-up with some solid lumps in it. It has some context. - Tim Drylie, Creswick Theatre Company director

“It’s looking at the human condition and the way that Samuel Beckett did it in a tragi-comedy way. His works are often associated with the darkly absurd, but there’s always an element of lightness in his work.

“Whereas Gilbert and Sullivan have a very light presentation, but the subject matter itself is quite serious in that it’s dealing with the nature of the law.”

The performance will depict shorts from Beckett’s plays Catastrophe, Act Without Words I, Come and Go, and his only film, which he quite simply entitled Film.

“It is very general public-friendly so it’s an introduction to Beckett. You’ve got short punchy pieces that are interesting in themselves, but are not going to torture someone for 2.5 hours like Waiting for Godot is. But you also have the community theatre-favourite of Gilbert and Sullivan too,” Mr Drylie said.

Trial by Beckett also promises audiences will almost be part of the set. As they enter, they will be invited into a lounge area before proceeding to the Trial by Jury set, which has been set up as a cafe instead of a courtroom.

“There are different elements that people can experience as they rock up –they can enjoy a wine and barista coffee, because this Trial by Jury is set in a modern, urban hipster cafe,” Mr Drylie said.

“There’s a sense that you have baristas instead of barristers – it’s a play on words.”

The production has also had some heavyweight support, thanks to the likes of choreography by Bruce Kronberger, formerly of the Australian Ballet, musical direction from professional pianist Lauren Knight and set design by artist Bruce Mellows.

Trial by Beckett will be held at Creswick Courthouse Theatre September 29 to October 8. Bar opens at 7pm for drinks and free pizza. For tickets, go to trialbybeckett.eventbrite.com