Fri, Jun 10, 2005 - Page 14 News List

Riverbed cooks up a feast with`Exploding Rice'

By Diana Freundl  /  STAFF REPORTER

Exploding Rice is a visually and mentally stimulating experience.

PHOTO COURTESY OF RIVERBED THEATRE COMPANY

If you rate your plays according to the amount of time you spend thinking about them afterward then Riverbed's shows should be near the top. Blurring the boundaries between visual and performing arts is a Riverbed Theatre (河床劇團) specialty, and its latest production doesn't disappoint. Exploding Rice is the third and final instalment of the Rice Series -- the first and second of which were staged at Eslite Bookstore and Huashan Creative Industry Center in 2004.

The company's last production, Life and Times of Robert Wilson took the audience on a journey into mind of the man who revolutionized contemporary theater in the early seventies. It was a 90-minute multimedia installation with ultra-slow, almost ritualistic actions and exceptional stage design.

Inspired by the animated shorts of the Brothers Quay, who are likened to Czech animation legend Jan Svankmajer, Riverbed's latest production, Exploding Rice, takes a similar non-linear and surreal approach but applies it to theater.

The dreamlike atmosphere it creates is not light and breezy. It is dark, heavy and slightly disturbing, yet visually and mentally stimulating.

At a preview of the play on Tuesday, the slow-paced movements of the actors and existential undertones were reminiscent of Radiohead's part animation, part live-action music video There, There.

During the press conference, artistic director Craig Quintero answered a question about the meaning of his play by saying there wasn't one and that he "wanted to leave blanks for the audience to fill in on their own. Allow them to make their own story, from their own experiences."

Perhaps the best way to enjoy a Riverbed production is not to try to make sense out of it, but to sit back and enjoy it.

Performances run tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at Taipei Artist Village with shows at 7:30pm and weekend matinees at 2:30pm. Tickets cost NT$350 and are available at the door or online at www.artstiket.com.tw. The Taipei Artist Village is located at 7, Beiping Rd, Taipei (台北市北平路7).

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