Presented by Arts Centre Melbourne. Director: Robert Lepage. Produced by Ex Mancina (Canada) & Theatre Sans Frontieres (UK). Performed by Frederike Bedard, Carlos Belda, Rebecca Blankenship, Lise Castonguay, John Cobb, Nuria Garcia, Marie Gignac, Sarah Kemp, Rick Miller, Hans Piesbergen. Lighting Designer - Etienne Boucher, Sound – Jean-Sebastien Cote, Costume Designer – Yasmina Giguere, Set Designer – Jean Hazel, Props Designer – Virginie Leclerc. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne: 4 - 12 August, 2012.

This unique adventure, of ‘a grand theatre marathon’, with its rich gratifying sense of humanity and its haunting imagery, is certainly well worth seeing.  Bring or buy snacks and heaps of water, dress lightly for comfort, and leave cumbersome coats in the cloakroom.  Then prepare to be amazed by how many varied aspects of human experience can be realized by only nine versatile actors.

Robert Lepage and his energetic company have created a delightful, engaging and often surprising narrative of the modern world in which the lives of nine featured characters intertwine.  Simply lit (Etienne Boucher) with a beautiful and sometimes magical design (Jean Hazel) of movable interchangeable and projected sets, it often seems like watching a film or television show with live performers.  At the same time there is a sense that the actors’ work is being framed in live sets that have quirks of their own.

Amazingly this is not only theatre for the initiated, but an extremely accessible, beautifully honed work that offers comfortable and easy inroads to poignant, lived experience. Although some of the storylines involve distressing subject matter and many situations spring from dire need, everything moves forward with a sense of inevitability – like life really. 

Yes it sounds like a cliché but Lipsynch reminds us that we all experience amazing, surprising and disturbing events, coming out of the blue, to seemingly challenge us.  And through example it shows us that we can find a ways through difficulties both real and imagined.  Truthfully – if there is fault to be found perhaps it is that Lipsynch, framed by Symphony #3 by Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki, is clichéd at times.  But it doesn’t promise not to be, and, if anything, this renders it all the more affecting and easy to relate to.

Sitting for a whole day amongst a large audience, being offered the cathartic affect of actors on the stage, in real time, exploring complex emotional experiences there is an experiential reward much like that of going to a wedding or a wake.

Go and take someone with you, even if they are kicking and screaming to stay home.  And with any luck, like returning from a good holiday, you will be rewarded by feeling refreshed and elated as I, and others I spoke to, did.

Suzanne Sandow

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