Theatre Review: The Ambitious, Thrilling Arteries by Ancestry
Fugue’s Arteries By Ancestry isn’t so much a play you ‘understand’ but rather one you witness and feel. It’s a visceral, often confronting performance that demands your attention and makes the most of it.
The play is based in a dystopian universe in which environmentalists rule a dictatorship. It’s the story of one man, who struggles to overcome where he has come from and where he is heading. The show manages to pack a lot of complicated issues into its hour running time, covering issues of toxic masculinity, queer relationships and the struggle to overcome your past. James McMillan's script and direction operated on the ‘less is more’ principle; the fewer details the audience are given about this world, the more you have to fill them in for yourself, and the more engaging and believable it becomes.
Not that the play centres on realism, however. It’s an eclectic mix of dance theatre, magical realism and even elements of theatre of cruelty (an oft-controversial form that assaults the senses of both the performers and audiences). Witnessing the two performers (Noah Jimmy and Haydon Wilson) bend their bodies and throw themselves around the stage is impressive and, quite literally, breath-taking. The bodily-kinesthetic intelligence those two have going on is off the charts; their control of both their body and voice was probably the most admirable aspect of the production.
The production elements of the play also contributed to creating a tense, anxious atmosphere with few moments of respite. The Blue Room studio space was organised into a profile stage, creating an intimate dynamic between performer and audience (and both sides of the audience). Meanwhile, some choice lighting and sound selections elevated the intensity. It all came together for a one-of-a-kind gut-wrenching experience.
Arteries probably isn’t for everyone. If you prefer your plays to be of the more realistic kind, this might not be your first choice. But if you like them to hit you in the face with tenacity, blending and blurring the boundaries of form and space, look no further.