Be Absolute For Death review by Jane Staggs:
Be Absolute for Death, In Situ’s latest offering, is a seriously reworked, promenade version of Measure for Measure. This is an exciting production, an immensely theatrical work.
True to Shakespeare’s original, all is not what it seems on the surface. In Measure for Measure, characters are not who they pretend to be, and in Be Absolute for Death the actors morph from one character to another, layering on ambiguity.
Who is who, who is good, bad, male or female? Scenes are cut and pasted, then cut and pasted again. The plot is revealed through overheard conversations, distant rumours, snippets of gossip. Writhing bodies and stylised movements emerge out of flickering candlelight as the actors and audience move around the Norman architecture of Cambridge’s Leper Chapel. The costumes and atmosphere are decadent, seedy, mysterious, reminiscent of Wiemar Germany or a red light district somewhere, sometime.
Most importantly, ‘Be Absolute for Death’ is just so enjoyable.
Be Absolute For Death review by Barry Lane:
Peter Brook, the theatre director, suggests there are four kinds of theatre: Deadly, Holy, Rough and Immediate.
I am always drawn toward Immediate theatre but there isn’t much of it around in a theatre world dominated by the deadly variety. So, it was a relief to discover In Situ, the nearest thing to Immediate theatre I have found in years. Experiencing Be Absolute for Death was cathartic, present and certainly immediate, performed in the perfect venue for this kind of theatre, the Leper Chapel, Cambridge.
In this intimate setting, the audience seemed to be part of the performance; included, challenged and involved as we found ourselves walking around inside a brothel. Everything seemed to happen because we were there, the audience and actors thrown together in a shared exploration of male sexual power, misogyny and corruption.
It’s brave to recast the Bard’s text like this, but it worked with the help of a wonderful device; getting the actors to fill in and interpret the story directly with the audience as it unfolded.
The mark of an accomplished acting ensemble is maintained, authentic focus in the spirit of connection. This is theatre that connects. Go see it.