Palmyra @ AC Arts – Main Theatre, Adelaide 4/3/2019

This show is definitely an out of the ordinary show. It is fantastic that the Adelaide Festival has such a huge variety of shows to cater for all tastes and like the proverbial box of chocolates you never know what you are going to get. The programmers at the Adelaide Festival get to travel the world to seek out new shows and they found this thought-provoking performance from 2017 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Before attending this show I decide not to read anything about it so as to keep an open mind about what I was seeing. I only found out later that Palmyra was the city in Syria where ISIS smashed all the architecture. There is a lot of smashed plates in this performance at the beginning Nasi and Bert are discussing one broken plate. It is the first time of many where they break down the fourth wall between performers and audience and state to us “you probably can’t see it from where you are sitting but this used to be something” I now realise that they were indirectly referring to Syria’s architecture

What follows in the play is the volatile relationship between these two men and a total involvement from the crowd. This is a show that is more than interactive. Some people in the audience were quite vocal about the decisions that Nasi and Bert were asking of the audience. The one person in the audience that was given a prop actually pleaded with the audience to give her advice of what to do. In hindsight, I can see that the clever performers had thought about each contingency and I wonder how different the show is night to night based on the varying audience reactions.

At times this show felt dangerous and uncomfortable, with audible gasps from the crowd and at other times hilarious.  It felt like a reality TV Punch and Judy pantomime for adults that quite affected the crowd. The broken crockery was highly effective in keeping the nervous tension going. I really admired the way the audience was manipulated tonight by this dark and intense performance and would love if their previous show called Eurohouse was brought to Adelaide. 

Adelaide Festival Review By Rick De Pizzol

For tickets, show dates and times for Palmyra head to the Adelaide Festival website.

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