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Published on Thursday, 23 May 2013

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3 stars

Laughing Horse @ The Temple (venue website)
20-24 May, 9:45pm-10:45pm; 25-26 May, 11:00pm-12:00am
Reviewed by Ben Aitken

 Warning: Contains strong language and nudity.
 Suitable for age 18+ only.

Vesta is an act of violence. It is a series of surreal vignettes that when added together make a grotesque poem. It is a poem which troubles the very idea of theatre; a poem that defies expectation, laughs at convention, destroys politeness. It is very queer indeed, and all the better for it.

If you are brave enough to go and see Vesta, and the six sordid women that perform it, you will: encounter said women pretending to be chickens, pigs, and various other animals; watch a despotic goddess (the titular Vesta) feed her underlings scraps of melon; observe a pomegranate or grapefruit (not sure which) being fingered and bled suggestively; see a person caught in a black stocking; be yelled at in Latin; listen to the clarinet and the accordion; watch a woman remove her clothes and then fill her mouth with squirty-cream. 

Vesta is inspired by the films of Federico Felleni, the late Oscar-winning auteur whose work was driven more by dreams and images and the unconscious than by stories or characters. Accordingly, Vesta offers little to no dialogue and makes little to no attempt to convey a narrative. The show might be said to have recurring themes - power, servitude, gender relations - but such things are only ever physically suggested rather than given a sustained intellectual going-over.

As such, I come away reminded that power will ever be abused, and that humans will ever act like animals – but without any new means to re-evaluate such axioms in any meaningful way. Tell me something new about despotism, I felt like saying; don’t just remind me it exists.

It would be foolish to guess what motivated Fighetta to devise this show. It is cruel and vivid and unusual. Its meanings will swing endlessly, with each audience member spying their own motifs, spotting their own codes, electing their own best and worst stanzas. Because it is a poem, really. A poem that you will never forget, but will desperately want to. And that is its own kind of triumph in my book.

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