At the murky intersection of theatre and performance art, the Museum of Modern Love, a new theatrical work at the Seymour Centre, leaves the viewer with lots of questions and not as many answers.
I always really enjoy going to a world premiere. There’s a specific nervous energy in the air when presenting a piece that has never been seen before. Sure, there are previews and read-throughs, but you don’t get a feeling for a new piece of theatre until the first full audience has seen it. The Museum of Modern Love is a stage adaptation by Tom Holloway based on the Stella prize-winning novel by Heather Rose. Simply, it explores a man’s experience with love and loss through a piece of performance art by the world-renowned Marina Abramovic.
For those who may not be familiar with Abramovic’s work, she rose to fame in 2010 by sitting entirely still and silent and staring into the eyes of strangers for 75 days at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. While this is just the setting for the play, and it really focuses on a family being torn apart by disease, the staging gives a performance art-Esque feeling where the audience is left to interpret the piece of theatre their own way. Even conversations over Krispy Kremes afterwards with my plus-one highlighted the discrepancy in the interpretation and understanding of what was just seen.
Therein lies the genius of this show.
This artistic triumph, directed by Timothy Jones, gives the audience just enough information to all be in the same story but allows our own experiences to fill in the rest of the narrative. A very stripped back set with minimal props instantly takes the viewer from the gallery to the artist studio, to a hospital room, to cafe and bars.
At times, I think the opening night jitters got the hold of some of the actors, but overall the ensemble seamlessly transitioned between characters and scenes and moments of the play. For a show that is so steeped in the dark recesses of the end of life, there are also moments of great levity which allows the audience to take a breath and just find relief from the brevity of the topic.
Bravo to the Seymour Centre for taking the risk of staging a new piece of theatre in a time when ticket sales are hard to come by. Make sure you grab your ticket before it’s too late and allow yourself to be immersed in the performance art that is the Museum of Modern Love.
– The other Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig is a regular on the Sydney Arts scene after living, working, and performing in London. He has a long history with theatre, and when not dabbling in the arts (which rarely ever happens), he works in scientific research and loves to travel the world trying new gin. Follow him on all the socials @talldancraig
The Museum of Modern Love runs for 110 minutes (no interval) and is playing at The Seymour Centre until 30 January 2022. Tickets are available on the Seymour Centre’s website
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Kabuku PR.
Image credit: Ten Alphas.