Issued Tuesday, 7 February 2006
THE HANGING MAN
The Hanging Man,from British theatre company Improbable, is a bitter-sweet tale of an architect, a half-finished cathedral and a man getting to know Death. This absurd, funny but deadly serious play opens at Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre on 4 May as part of Adventures in the Dark.
Improbable’s meditation on creativity, life, death and everything is an eccentric, engaging piece of storytelling. Fact and fable, the modern and the medieval combine in The Hanging Man. An architect who fears his work on a cathedral is a failure decides to hang himself, but he can’t even get that right and spends the rest of the play hanging by a noose while Death goes on strike. Staged with impressive flair in the shell of the unfinished cathedral, the set design incorporates clever use of ropes and pulleys. Characters emerge and disappear through trapdoors and Death herself (played by the diminutive Lisa Hammond) reminds the audience directly of their own mortality. Rather than being morbid The Hanging Man is strangely beautiful and wickedly funny.
Improbable brings together the talents of some of Britain’s most highly imaginative theatre practitioners. Since forming Improbable in 1996, the quartet behind the company – Phelim McDermott, Lee Simpson, Julian Crouch and Nick Sweeting – have created inventive and indefinable work, establishing a reputation for innovative, exciting and accessible theatre. Perhaps best known for their internationally acclaimed hit production Shockheaded Peter (seen at the 2000 Adelaide Festival), Improbable has performed in Egypt, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium, Germany, the USA, Greece, Canada, Lebanon, Ireland and Holland. Improbable was last seen at the Opera House opening the 2003 Sydney Festival with the outdoor spectacle Sticky. The group’s work has won several major awards including an OBIE for Outstanding Achievement in Off Broadway Theatre, the 1997 Time Out Award for Best Off West End Production, Best Performance at The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre and The Manchester Evening News Award for Best Production.
Improbable productions grow out of a way of working that means being prepared to create theatre by the seat of your pants and the skin of your teeth. The Hanging Man is no exception. Like previous Improbable work itis eclectic, gloriously messy, self-consciously theatrical and full of surprises. From its arresting beginning it becomes an exploration of what the world would be like without death that is “splendidly weird and wonderful” (Daily Telegraph, UK).
Program Details: The Hanging Man
Venue: Drama Theatre
Dates: Previews: 4 & 5 May, 2006
Season: 6 May – 4 June, 2006
Times: Tues 6.30pm, Wed – Fri 8pm
Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 5pm
Artists Talk: Sunday 7 May (post show)
Tickets: Previews $43