QUOTES FROM PAST REVIEWS
From Of The Causes of Wonderful Things
A dark tale, told with intelligence and a seductive ability to create an entire world from limited means – a gesture, a well-placed beam of light, the microphone of an amateur radio show, a cup of tea...this solo theatrical offering recalls the worlds of David Lynch or the incandescent drifts encountered by Jack Torrance in a Colorado hotel (Kubrick’s The Shining). And of course, before allowing yourself to be moved and possessed by this creation, it would be sad – like the disappearance of five children – to expect anything less.
On one level, the show is the blackest kind of fairy tale, where big bad wolves win, and ghosts stalk the woods; on another, a taut, suspenseful, depression-era noir from the American South.Yet the overall effect is something else entirely, redolent of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the death of children), a song cycle set to manic, private poems by Friedrich Rückert, written after his children died from scarlet fever. This show has a similar trajectory: anguish and fantasies of shadowy revival, bleeding into a transcendent sense of resignation.This is intensely moving theatre, and for all the bleakness, beautiful. Rubin makes the unbearable seem bearable. Horror bows to wonder. I left feeling stricken but radiant, and recalled Rückert’s line: “Now the sun wants to rise as brightly/ as if nothing terrible had happened in the night.”
Rubin is absolutely arresting at all moments, displaying with heightened clarity each character’s emotional journey while moving between them effortlessly. The design of this show is remarkable, puppetry and projections, which hark back to a simpler and more difficult time creating an intimate and eerie feel. Size and scale are used to great effect in both set and lighting design, at times overshadowing the quaking Esther and at others bringing her literally to her knees. Of the Causes of Wonderful Things brings all the possibilities of theatre together and combines them with detailed simplicity – each and every element of this show crafted to champion the others. This piece is so emotive and so intriguing that the longer it goes on, the longer it could be watched. It is rare and affirming to see theatre so utterly human.
The human condition can be spoken of and can be read about. But when you hear it, see it and if it unveils in front of you, haunting you, if it unsettles your being and if you begin to live within a dream narrative that has lost all boundaries – if all of this is achieved on stage then it can only be magic.Stella Adler in an interview once screamed out that an actor must choose between life and the theatre. And if they chose the theatre, then they must be murdered every night in the service of the play and to the public and the characters. Here was a performer living each character: dedicated to not pretend but to harrowingly reveal to an audience, just what it would be like to disappear and to be scared and to be miserable.I can go on about the performance, but I’ll just leave it as a plot; that once it was laid out and once we were defeated by the history of this world, then nothing could stop this from being a master class in acting. A visual and sound carriage; one that took us back in time and left us to sink in our own condition.
One of the strongest shows in Liveworks is Talya Rubin’s Of the Causes of Wonderful Things, which might also be called The Curious Case of Esther Drury and Her Five Missing Nieces and Nephews. In an atmosphere of carefully curated chaos—the stage is littered with lamps, chairs, piles of dirt and projectors—Rubin cuts back and forth between several characters including Esther, the police officer investigating the disappearances, Esther’s sister Claire who is in a relationship with an abusive French puppet called Frankie and Esther’s neighbour, Mr Hiroshimoto. Rubin plays expertly with perspective, creating tiny scenes in a glass box, larger scenes projected onto the wall and some truly surreal interludes, such as when a donkey mask named Samuel takes to the stage in a town talent contest. Unsettling and affecting.
The staging, set and props added to the sense of the disconcerting through brilliant use of scale. At times the stage shrunk to the size of a claustrophobically small box, lit with pale, down shining light and an earthen floor, barely enough room for Esther’s disembodied head and the 5-inch body of her ghostly niece. At other times the stark stage lights projected a towering wraith upon the back of the stage and up into the rafters, ominously shadowing Rubin, threatening to consume her.
Be haunted, unsettled and amazed by this solo performer spectacle.Almost always awe-inspiring, Of the Causes of Wonderful Things is a theatre piece with a premise and execution like no other. While theater has the ability to make us cry, ponder and reevaluate our lives, this play by Talya Rubin will provoke and tease all three of the aforementioned whilst examining the redemptive power of confronting darkness.
Installation performance that impacted on a richly textured, deeply poetic level .
You know that feeling when you’re not scared but you’re unsettled. And you walk out of the car park past the Brisbane river and you’re not sure if it’ll be tonight, or tomorrow or another time on another day where the fear will get you and something terrible might just happen, but it might not. But you go on and you ignore the feeling because there is so much to it that is unknown and you won’t sleep if you let it get to you. That’s Of The Causes Of Wonderful Things to the letter. Eerie, displacing but incredibly entertaining.Talya Rubin’s creation reminds me very much of a David Lynch film. There’s excellent dialogue, a plot submerged in imagery and a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach. The usher recommended you sit as close as possible to really get the full experience, and he wasn’t kidding. Besides puppetry and projectors, there are miniature sets and poor innocent punters being interrogated by one of the many characters Rubin masterfully transforms into
From Ariadne's Thread and The Girl with No Hands
An experience that is at once absolutely familiar and entirely mysterious.
Sublime. A one-woman show brought to aching life
Blending myth and personal experience, Talya Rubin brilliantly puts the pieces together to tell a story of love, longing and betrayal. In this superbly written work, the actor moves from scene to scene and character to character with an ease that is absolutely astounding. Truly a must see show. (4.5 stars)
Extraordinary, must-see piece of theatre, an uncanny ability to use space and body with elegant precision. The writing is out of this world. It’s evocative, passionate, deft and witty; as sweet as honey and just as intense. One of those exquisite gems that emerges without fanfare from the thousands of performances on in the Fringe. (5 stars).
Absolutely inhabiting all of her many characters on stage, Rubin brings subtlety, grace and buckets of skill to this unique one-woman show. Also featuring an exquisite, inventive, minimal set, this is as good, interesting and unforgettable as anything I’ve ever seen at any Fringe Festival. It’s unique and brilliant and not to be missed. (5 Stars).