Ask Audrey Ask Audrey
Archived

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

"Earnestness and silliness are kept in fine balance"

Audrey review: Samuel Taylor Coleridge's antique tale of woe on the high seas resurrected as vivid exercise in sound and movement.

Text size
Text size
Add to favourites

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Date: 5 Apr 2019

Even by the time I went to high school, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner had been off curriculum lists for years.

My first encounter with it was when Iron Maiden quoted lines on the Powerslave album. Such were the times I grew up in.

Now, if The Rime of the Ancient Mariner lives at all in the popular imagination, it is in fragments: “As idle as a painted ship / Upon a painted ocean”; “He prayeth best, who loveth best / All things both great and small”, and the immortal (and always misquoted) “Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.”

But whether you know the poem or not, this Little Eggs Collective production, which resurrects the text as a vivid exercise in sound and movement, will grip you.

Taylor Coleridge’s poem begins when the mariner (played here by a suitably grizzled Nicholas Papademetriou) waylays a man on his way to a wedding.

“Unhand me, grey-beard loon!” says the impatient young fellow (Lloyd Allison-Young) but the mariner will have none of it. With “a glittering eye”, he begins to tell his tale of woe …

And a woeful one it is, a story set in motion by the shooting of an albatross, that sees a ship becalmed and a crew perish horribly, and that leads to a supernatural encounter with a ghostly hulk on which Death and a pale woman play dice for the eternal souls of the mariner’s dead shipmates.

Subscribe to our newsletter

The Kings Cross Hotel’s faux Victorian Bordello Room is reformatted into a traverse theatre for a production that forms part of JackRabbit Theatre’s three-month takeover of the venue.

The stage (a Nick Fry design) is a sandpit with a heavy wooden pile driven into it. Everything else is created with the bodies and voices of a diverse, nine-strong cast directed by Julia Robertson.

The unison movement and choreography is striking – its impact magnified in this small space – and with musical collaborator Oliver Shermacher, the cast creates an ocean of sound. The poet’s alliterative evocation of blustery seas are made to sing.

Given the tragic nature of the story, it’s a surprisingly funny production too, not least when the ill-fated albatross is conjured up with a kazoo, or when the crew whip out their ukuleles for a sing-song.

Earnestness and silliness are kept in fine balance throughout and the enduring moral of the story – that we visit destruction on Nature at our peril – resounds clearly.

It’s a short piece – around 45 minutes – but completely satisfying and an impressive next step in this emerging company’s journey.

Content
Leopardskin
Add to favourites
ArchivedKings Cross Theatre, Kings Cross Hotel, Sydney 26 Mar - 6 Apr 2019

Leopardskin

Audrey review: Energetic and funny but don’t expect this spotty exercise in screwball comedy to follow you all the way home.

Season One: Bonachela/ Nankivell/ Lane
Add to favourites
ArchivedRoslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay, Sydney 26 Mar - 13 Apr 2019

Season One: Bonachela/ Nankivell/ Lane

Audrey review: Sydney Dance Company celebrates 50 years with a stunning survey of its present and future.

The Last Five Years
Add to favourites
ArchivedEnsemble Theatre, Kirribilli, Sydney 29 Mar - 27 Apr 2019

The Last Five Years

Audrey review: Fine performances fill out this pocket-sized musical but it would be better without all the spin.

See More

More to see

View All
A Little Piece of Ash
Add to favourites
ArchivedKings Cross Theatre, Kings Cross Hotel, Sydney 12 - 26 Apr 2019

A Little Piece of Ash

When Jedda finds out her mother has died, she’s confused, distraught and alienated. She doesn’t know how to grieve.

Blood on the Cat’s Neck
Add to favourites
ArchivedThe Bordello, Level 4 Kings Cross Hotel, Sydney 22 May - 1 Jun 2019

Blood on the Cat’s Neck

Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Blood on the Cat's Neck views the world through the eyes of an alien observer, Phoebe Zeitgeist.

Chamber Pot Opera
Add to favourites
ArchivedSydney Opera House, Bennelong Point 11 - 28 Apr 2019

Chamber Pot Opera

The first opera designed to be performed in a public bathroom tells the story of three women meeting for the first time.

Frida Kahlo: Viva La Vida
Add to favourites
ArchivedOld 505 Theatre, Newtown, Sydney 23 Apr - 4 May 2019

Frida Kahlo: Viva La Vida

Drawing on documents, materials and memoirs, Humberto Robles’s play reveals the woman behind the icon.

Top