Gripping and unabashedly experimental, this production testifies to the power of suggestion. Adapting William Faulkner’s classic novel, Theatre Smith-Gilmour gives us the Bundren family in all their misfortune. The centrepiece of this production is a journey: the children of deceased matriarch Addie haul her corpse across the land to the town that she’s asked to be buried in. It’s one hell of a trip—sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, often both. Through the hellish trek, we hear from many, including Addie herself as she speaks from beyond the grave. The cast of seven perform 19 roles, paying tribute to the novel’s cacophony of voices.
What pushes the production even further is its innovative presentation. This is a stripped-down work, but by no means is it austere. Using a bare set with few props, the company conjures a rich physical world: water, fire and more are rendered through movement, lighting and sound, all to spectacular effect. We may not see the Bundrens’ world, but we feel it in all its intensity. It’s physical theatre, put across with aplomb and great force. Convulsive, imposing and definitely inspired, this is a show that honours a great writer while breathing new life into his vision.
This is first-rate storytelling theatre, built of the simplest elements and delivering maximum effect.