Have you ever wondered about the absurdity of it all? Have you ever had an entirely inappropriate emotional reaction to a real life tragedy? If you have, then Stork Theatre’s production of Albert Camus’ The Outsider is an excellent way for those of you unfamiliar with Camus’ work to begin exploring the themes in an accessible and enthralling way.
Confession time: I have spent the last 30 or so years diligently avoiding reading The Outsider. Though I have read the Myth of Sisyphus and the Wikipedia entry of The Outsider, so I felt suitably prepared for Stork Theatre’s production.
La Mama Courthouse hosts this one-man show, which provides a convenient and intimate setting for the performance. At our showing there was an impressive array of French dignitaries, Australian media notables, and regular Wednesday night theatregoers.
First off, Ray Chong Nee’s performance as Mersault, the protagonist, and everyone else is exhilarating and captivating — but also appropriately at times understated and nuanced. He doesn’t have a lot of stage to play with, but he makes deft use of it. Nee’s splendid recount of such a large body of text is a feat in itself.
There are several instances where sound and lighting become characters in themselves and bring the audience into the performance almost reluctantly. For instance, there is a powerful sense of being co-opted into the jury pool during the trial and becoming an unwitting spectator to some of the more theatrical aspects of Mersault’s mental upheaval. The direction from James Jackson, design by Nathan Burnmeister, and stage management by Chris Chosich are all worthy of commendation for the eerie and engaging atmosphere they have created.
Rian is a young lawyer who enjoys avoiding eye contact, playing guitar and reading, if you see him on the street, leave him alone.
‘The Outsider’ runs 23 February – 13 March. Don’t forget there are two La Mama Theatres. You want the Courthouse, so head down to 349 Drummond Street, Carlton.
Book your tickets at www.storktheatre.com.au.