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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | May 15, 2021

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All That Fall at Brisbane Powerhouse

All That Fall at Brisbane Powerhouse

| On 15, Feb 2014

As I suspiciously stepped through the bold black curtains and into the dimly lit room I noticed the cluster of rocking chairs, each one facing inwards, outwards and in their own direction.

The seats at the front of the room were already taken, as you would expect in any theatre. However this was no ordinary play.

I sat amongst the illuminated yellow lights, which hung from the walls and ceiling of the decommissioned power station.

I noticed the crowd who were waiting for the audacious re-imaging of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall by Ireland’s critically acclaimed Pan Pan Theatre.

With some in black business attire and others in Levis jeans and t-shirts, it was as though the mixed group played a part in a unique art installation.

Each witness to the radio play, which came direct from New York and Edinburgh, swung and swiveled on the sea of black and white rocking chairs whilst excitedly whispering amongst themselves.

However, when the disembodied presence of an Irish stranger rose out of the darkness the rocking abruptly fell still and any murmuring ceased.

The sudden voice, followed by a series of encounters, was intimate and not one to be interrupted. The striking radio play had captivated the audience in a way I had never before experienced.

With the fundamental absence of the actors, the audience was able to solely focus on the expressiveness of the voices, which created chills, compassion and curiosity amongst the room.

Like others, I warmed to the soon familiar voices, which worked in harmony with the darkness of the room. The storytellers took the audiences on a journey of hatred, acceptance, reconnecting love and strange encounters.

The intimate listeners absorbed the physical, emotional and spiritual feelings of Mrs Rooney as though they were close friends. They listened intently with both open and closed eyes as an intricate journey to the Boghill train station unfolded.

The voices over the radio, a centaury old technology, expressed raw honesty that brought the audience into an incredibly deep level, with some lifted slightly of their comfort zones.

After much uncertainty, lonesomeness and distress, the story revealed a romantic side in a strange way that surprisingly fit the gradual closeness of the scene.

You want to me to kiss you? Here? On the platform? In front of the boy?” said Mr Rooney before letting Mrs Rooney take his arm.

Despite his tough exterior the audience was able to catch a glimpse of a man who expressed love for his wife in his own unique way.

It was then when I knew that All That Fall was a success in Brisbane. The audience broke hesitations to interrupt the omnipresent cloud of voices and finally relaxed into a thunderous laughter that flooded over the room.

Mr Rooney’s reply to his wife who had long awaited affection lifted the mood and the audience began to slowly rock back on their chairs again.

The children’s play mat, skull cushions and galaxy of lights were synchronised with the radio play.

The lights shone powerfully as every truck, train and car approached like beasts; and as every persuasive emotion fell overhead, bringing the contemporary experience to life.

When the last words were spoken and the last sounds were heard the room was not prepared to move or make a single sound. It was as though the audience had fallen deep under the spell of Mrs Rooney’s expedition and wanted to grasp the stillness forever.


The Details
What: All That Fall, produced by Pan Pan Theatre (Ireland)
Where: Brisbane Powerhouse
When: Now until 16 February, 2014
How Much: $45.00

Image credited to Brisbane Powerhouse