A few introductory thoughts from Director David WW Johnstone about Lazzi's adaptation of The Comic Destiny...
Lazzi likes to delve into the rough and raw edges of theatre. Whether working with comedy or tragedy, I like to ask the audience to experience a courageous experiment on the part of the performers.
Our piece starts with the actors themselves gathering to rehearse. How will they adapt and interpret the text? I wanted Lazzi to take Ben Okri’s story and show how the borderline between actor and character can dissolve in unexpected ways. The characters of the piece can be gloriously oblivious to our attempts to restrain them – the process of adaptation itself must be released into their hands.
Ben Okri’s story The Comic Destiny confronts the violence and the predatory nature of our world through a cast of characters each with their own disturbing histories and personalities. Lazzi needed to find a way to approach this unsettling text – why and how might a company fond of commedia do this? Some insight was gained from comparing the relentless suffering in the myth of Sisyphus, where he is forced to roll a stone up a hill only for it to endlessly fall back down, with the film of Laurel & Hardy attempting to deliver a piano and having to push it up endless steps, with the inevitable comic consequences. Both have a futility, yet one torments us, the other makes us laugh. Both speak of the human condition – they are surreal and absurd... and slapstick is a somewhat violent art.
Like the characters in the story we are all looking for a special place where we can start afresh - although often just as we discover it we realise it too is about to be torn down. Navigating the line between pessimism and optimism is a fragile path.
If you haven't seen Laurel & Hardy with that piano... here it is... enjoy!: