The British play "Roadmetal Sweetbread" which premiered at Masrah Beirut on Thursday will continue playing until Sunday. The performance was brought to Beirut by the British Council and the youth theater and cinema association Shams.
Its main attraction, according to the Daily Star, is clever visual trickery, as the events on stage are echoed by the characters’ doubles, shown via a pre-recorded video which continues throughout the performance.
In effect, the audience was forced to switch attention constantly between the real and the reel.
But a short way into the show, the events on stage and their 2D electronic companion assumed equal importance, even though the sequence of events they portrayed rarely matched rather complementing, contradicting, pre-empting or postponing each other.
Although the play’s brochure suggested that the double images compete, in this production it seemed more a relationship of mutual dependence. After all, had they competed, one reality might have threatened the existence of the other.
But while the images often ridiculed each other, or satisfied the actors’ sexual and violent fantasies, the distance between the actors on stage and the video images never widened enough to allow either to be upstaged.
The characters, scripted and performed by Susannah Hart and Julian Maynard Smith, were challenging because of disparities in their perceptions.
Their relationship, while reflecting a growing discord, compensated for what at times became tedious repetition.
Her dreams and his, his hopes and hers, their individual pain, pleasure, passion and hate grew further and further apart until they became utterly irreconcilable, yet all the while with continued slapstick humor, irony and clean technical precision and entirely without speech.
The equality between video and stage action was precisely what Maynard Smith considered most interesting in the play, which was first staged in 1999 by the Station House Opera, an acting troupe that Smith founded in Cardiff, Wales in 1980 – Albawaba.com