25 February 2007
I went to Northern Stage in Newcastle yesterday to see the work-in-progress show that will become Robert Lepage's new work, Lipsynch. It will come back to this country in 2009 I think, as a 9-hour piece. Yesterday things kicked off at 2pm and my friend Paul and I had to duck out before the last of the seven parts, at about 6.30, so we could catch the last train back to London.
It was quite a trip.
I won't attempt any kind of precis or review here. My hold on the thing is quite tenuous, I didn't take notes and I became very emotionally involved in the first half hour, so much so that I was like a wrung-out sponge by the first interval. Luckily for me the second session was more comedic and playful. By the time we left the theatre my head was spinning like a top.
The company, comprising the north-east based Theatre Sans Frontieres working together with Lepage's Ex Machina people, displayed that distinctive mix of bravura technical skill and artful emotional range. Wagner used to talk of his endeavours as attempting an evolution toward the Gesamtkunstwerk, a synthesis of the arts, or a 'total' work of art. So many decades on, the form Wagner worked in, though highly loveable to many (myself included), looks pretty limited next to the epic theatre engendered by this unassuming (by all accounts) French-Canadian theatre worker.
Lyn Gardner wrote a preview for the Guardian.