Democracy, power, leadership and the impact of the collective voice. Motherboard Productions pulls and twists at Euripides’ original story of Iphigenia to create a beautifully raw and industrial piece of Australian independent theatre.
‘Or Forever Hold Your Peace’ crashes its way into the contemporary Australian zeitgeist. It storms right up to political hierarchy and screams in its face. A ruthless ensemble of soldiers and a young woman’s willing nature becomes a cyclone of destruction when Agamemnon agrees to sacrifice his daughter to prove his loyalty to war.
The acceptance of a young woman’s agreeable temperament is brought to the point of gender ridicule when Iphigenia is lured to Aulis, and subsequently her death, by the promise of marriage to handsome warrior Achilles. Before the frustration of this misogynist concept overpowered my feminine core, I reminded myself of the innocence that Iphigenia possesses. From her child-like voice to her heart wrenching speech moments before her death, Iphigenia is youthful selflessness and innocence as pure as her white wedding dress.
The ensemble moves with an electricity and exuberance. The soldier’s movement sequences are powerful and strong, dominating the space and claiming it as their own from the instant the play begins. From the get-go we know that this is their battleground and those who watch from above are displaced and, in turn, destined to fall to the war without needing step foot on the battle ground.
The bridesmaids, while quirky and loaded with sass, seemed to add little more to the plot than a slight resemblance to women born into power – perhaps Tony Abbott’s daughters – and a lighthearted dig at contemporary hens nights and Australian drunkenness.
The choice to speak out becomes important whether it is the soldiers determining trust and demanding equality; Achilles pleading for ethics and understanding; Iphigenia searching for truth and embodying patriotic loyalty; or cries of pain and oppression from Clytemnestra. The play wails and shouts its way from start to finish. Voices are heard, ignored, silenced and deflected all in the name of public objection.
The performance space is lined by metal lockers, 16 performers and a multitude of sound and design collages. Despite a few ill-fitting shoes and a colour scheme that screams rainbow lorikeet, the costume design compliments the drab yet alluring set design’s concentration camp aura. Sound is used to the advantage of the soldiers with a sneaky micrphone inside a blazer providing projection that booms out past the playing space and into the audience’s goosebumps.
‘Or Forever Hold Your Peace’ questions the fabrication of a powerful leader, the necessity of war and emphasizes the repercussions that come with selfish or selfless choice. It reminds us how influential, and yes, powerful independent theatre can be.
– Written by Rhumer Diball Nov 26th 2014
OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE (THE STORY OF IPHIGENIA) PRESENTED BY LA BOITE INDIE AND MOTHERBOARD PRODUCTIONS WITH THE SUPPORT OF QPAC. WED 12 – SAT 29 NOV, 2014.
Photo credit Morgan Roberts Photography