Le Nor (The Rain) @ PICA Performance Space
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
High contrast mise-en-scène with a distinctly 80s flare, this performance paid homage to David Lynch’s neo-noir with inspirations from popular foreign films such as Amelie and Delicatessen, to name a few. It doesn’t get more meta than Le Nor (The Rain): a film within a play, a play within a behind the scenes special, a documentary within a film… within a play. The actors watched the audience as the audience watched the actors perform not only for us in the present space but for an 80s inspired dystopian documentary/surreal faux foreign film being created live on stage. This show didn’t just break the fourth wall, it added a fifth and sixth, smashed them all and then rebuilt them upside down and sideways.
The six actors from Perth-based collective The Last Great Hunt flawlessly constructed and curated an intimate story of love and resilience set against the backdrop of a set of apartments in the once booming metropolis, Sólset. In true dystopian fashion, the nation is suffering the effects of a drought, assumedly caused by global warming, and water rationing has been enforced. The narrative follows the life of residents that it has effected and the ways in which love and friendship eventually save them in the face of adversity.
We are introduced to the residents by an omniscient narrator who somewhat doubles as the host of the show. He steps in and out of the action, directly addressing both the characters and the audience throughout, has intimate knowledge of the motivations of each character while also being a part of the narrative as it unfolds. The actors navigated the different spaces on the stage, which was set up like a mini movie studio, with ease and expertise, creating stunning scenes projected on the screen that would have been impossible to create with just theatrical techniques.
Rife with nostalgia, the costumes, lighting and sets were consistently authentic, while paradoxically, also explicitly artificial. The cast sported fashion reminiscent of Eastern European 80s athletic chic crossed with the tight gold leotards and leg warmers of GLOW. Their wigs were overtly synthetic and fake while every single character had the same garish blue eyeshadow and bright red lipstick, which were eventually ritualistically stripped off in a water orgy scene evocative of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was quite phenomenal how they were able to engage the audience and draw them into the story even though they could see the artificiality of the special effects and film techniques being used on the stage. The cast moved from scene to scene with such precision, it was in itself something spectacular to watch.
The language created for the performance, an amalgamation of Scandinavian, Russian and various Western European languages, was executed flawlessly. This would have been extremely challenging to do – to create a language, rehearse the lines in that made-up language and then act with the language so that it seemed natural and fluid – and the cast absolutely delivered. They did it so well that the language became more and more familiar – by the end of the performance it was almost second nature and real. By the time the audience left they definitely knew how to say love (Oust) and party (Jamma), guaranteed.
This was a brilliant performance that combined all the best elements of theatre and film to create a funny, engaging, stunningly beautiful visual feast that redefined the boundaries of space, time and scale. This is absolutely a standout of the festival so far.