How do you begin talking about a show as spectacular and gloriously arresting as Black Rider – The Casting of the Magic Bullets? I can begin by saying the production sees the directorial forces of Malthouse’s Artistic Director Mathew Lutton along with Victorian Opera’s Head of Music Phoebe Briggs unite for a refreshing reinterpretation of this tour de force.
Meow Meow — black clad and booted — plays Pegleg (a female devil incarnate). She hops about the stage belting out tunes in devilish woe seeking revenge to those who cross her path. The cabaret-influenced performance is punctuated with a unique blend of voices, including the hilariously talented performance by Paul Capsis.
The original Black Rider text was written by William Burroughs who drew inspiration from the German folktale, inspired by Carl Maria Von Weber’s nineteenth century Gothic Opera Der Freischutz. It is a tale of a young clerk and his true love, a woodman’s daughter. The clerk is sent out into the woods, where he strikes a pact with the Devil for a magic bullets that never miss their target.
William Burroughs, the original Beat writer, deliberately extracted inspiration from his own life, debunking his life story of accidentally shooting his wife whilst in an intoxicated state during acting out the William Tell legend. He worked closely with musician Tom Waits and theatre director and designer Robert Wilson to create the edgy and experimental show that premiered in Germany in 1990.
A minimal stark white-cladded stage sets the pace for our Pegleg, who roams free whilst the rest of the cast pop in and out like a magical puppet show. Pop-up doors and clever stage design give this show an illusionary aura of magical fantasy, yet cast in deeper depths of the underworld. A show of greater dimensions incorporates a finely tuned rhythm of dance and movement and comical staging of props blend into a pastiche of post-modern operatic and vaudevillian performances. The soundscape is uniquely distinctive with a range of unpredictable and expressive sounds that punctuate performance beats that coincide with the text.
I have high appraisal for Black Rider. It is pure avant garde decadence and l recommend everyone go and experience the wonders of a truly post-modern show.
Flora is a theater reviewer.@flora52georgie