Red Koi Reviews

See what I've seen, hear what I've heard

A large attendance in the antechamber

Posted by redkoireviews on 16/07/2006

A large attendance in the antechamberMy partner and I went to see the play “A large attendance in the antechamber” last night at the Opera House. It’s part of the “Adventures in the Dark” series that also included “The hanging man” and “The Importance of being Ernest“.

The play is a kind of study of Sir Francis Galton – cousin to Charles Darwin, eccentric genius, scientist and founder of eugenics. The play oscillates wildly between trivial and hilarious oddities from Galtons life, and the truly confronting philosophy of eugenics that lead to some of the most horrific times in human history.

Adding to the intense hyperactivity of the man and the play is the tiny box like ‘room’ in which the entire play is set. You leave the play felling like you’ve been lectured by him, one to one. That effect would be even stronger in another, less volumous venue than the Sydney Opera house playhouse.

In the program it was clear that writer and actor Brian Lipson sees the play as an exploration of the uncomfortable junction between science and ethics. But somehow that junction never seems to be reached in this play. I left with an impression of Galton as a eccentric scientist who simply failed to understand the implications of his ideas and where they might lead. But I found myself wanting more than that. Given the play works on the idea that Galton is brought to life once more by the actor, what would he have thought of the way his ideas where used to justify genocide?

Like all the plays in the “Adventures” series at the Opera house, this was an excellent, challenging and genuinely different moment of theatre. I hope the series continues in 2007.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Reviews at Sydney Stage Online and the Sydney Morning Herald

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