at Underbelly, Wednesday 15th August 2012
Satan’s Playground, based on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s The Destruction of Kreshev and created by Sacred and Profane, is a piece which achieves what it sets out to do but fails to maintain an audience’s attention. Two strong performers are supporting by impressive tech and strong direction, but the story just isn’t interesting enough to warrant this adaptation.
Lydia Baksh and David Hewson play Satan, who narrates our story, and fit in all the other characters too. Their technique is incredibly strong and the characters defined enough to notice the difference without sacrificing nuance. The central narrative – a love story – is well executed and, considering it takes place in a religious area, contains with in it a decent amount of drama and debate. Nevertheless, the most interesting bits are Satan’s narration, which asks questions about the nature of sin and makes the narrative accessible.
The most interesting aspects of Zoob’s production is the tech, featuring Schlomo- style looping of sound and well-used lights. The sound is created by recording sounds made by the actors (either vocals or instruments) and playing it back immediately on a loop, allowing exciting atmospheres to be built up in seconds and ensuring an exciting live quality. The lighting cues are frequent, and are used to help tell the story.
But for all its interesting use of tech and impressive performances, it’s difficult to get excited about Satan’s Playground; the story, though well-told, fails to have any real effect and at times feels a little self-indulgent. This team makes storytelling fun and new, but one can’t help thinking that with different source material, Zoob and his team would be able to use their skills to better effect.