Somewhere in between 2007 and 2008, among the works presented by the VCA then-graduates, was a little gem. A theatrical version of Yes, a beautiful (if flawed) little film by Sally Potter, in which the East and the West clash and crash in two bodies, nameless, a He and a She, speaking in rhyme, with cleaners and maids constantly breaking the fourth wall as an omnipresent chorus, and one very clever little ending. Everything about the film, indeed, worked best when it was little and English and round. Where it went wrong, I thought, was when it tried to extrapolate, abstract, generalise at the expense of the particular, of the people and the events.
The theatrical production overcame that obstacle. It was, I claimed and I still do, better than the film. Not by the virtue of re-writing it (it was singularly faithful to the script), but by the sheer nature of the medium: where film completely abstracts the individuals, the landscape, the rocks, the streets and the pulsating bodies it represents by bringing them from so far away, theatre operates with the opposing force, beginning with an abstract black (or white) box and filling it with naked, de-contextualised people, that rebuild their characters, setting and meaning through the course of the play. Matt gave a beautiful, and rather detailed analysis of why it is so in his blog at the time. With that little flaw out of the way, what remained was a powerful rendition of an original work by a very talented group of people.
We're solidly in 2008 now, the performers have re-assembled as OpticNerve Performance Group, and Yes is riding again, at fortyfivedownstairs from May 29th to June 8th. I will be going again, and so should you. For once, I am announcing early enough. And have a look at the trailer (which reminds me: how smart is that? Every theatre production should have a YouTube trailer. The job of a guerrilla publicist made infinitely easier in a blink)!
YES by Sally Potter (Australian Premiere)
Dates/times: 29 May – 8 June, Tues – Sat 8pm, Sat/Sun 5pm
Cost: $25 Full / $20 Concession
Bookings: 03 9662 9966 or www.fortyfivedownstairs.com
Location: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.