Gavin Krastin performs in Rough Musick, a performace art in the St. Andrew’s College changing rooms, in Grahamstown, South Africa, at the National Arts Festival, Monday 3 July 2013. Half performance and half social experiment, Rough Musick interrogates the hierarchical social dynamics imbued in archaic shaming rituals. Photo: CuePix/Robynne Peatfield

ROUGH MUSICK

DIRECTOR: Gavin Krastin

CAST: Gavin Krastin, Alan Parker, Lauren Fletcher

VENUE: Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Church Hall, cnr Milton and Wesley roads, Observatory

UNTIL: Saturday

RATING: ***

Disturbing and down-right strange, Rough Musick is as much about mocking thousands of years of English culture as not the be-all and end-all of civilisation, as it is about making the audience question the need to humiliate the performer.

Between the discordant images and the jarring movements, every- thing about the show jars and nothing sits right, heightening the discomfort factor.

The performance starts with some psycho sexual fantasy role- playing setting the tone – as not quite participant but definitely the voyeur you are still part of the performance, but simply cannot find a comfort zone.

The show takes place in the little used minor hall at the back of the Wesleyan Hall and you are summoned by the stern production manager, Lauren Fletcher, who presides over the show. She actively engages the audiences during the second chapter of the (eight- chapter) show, encouraging people to throw bread at the security guard specifically brought in at this point.

At any moment you expect her to whip out a chain and say: ‘Right audience, on your knees for mother”, but she curtails her domination to trying to outstare people and get them to move furniture, chop chop.

The performance needs a special level of audience participation and the wheels came a bit off the bus when someone refused to throw the bread or tomatoes, but again this is about how far you will go to be part of the herd, or not.

The trio of performers are dressed in a mix of black leather fetish gear and bedroom slippers, with Krastin ameliorating cos- tumes as the show progress. He teeters around on heel-less shoes, rendering what has become commonplace, like strip shows, as utterly strange and foreign and not really all that intriguing.

Eventually the show culminates in a noisy display of the original meaning of rough musick as the audience bangs away at pots and pans and Parker and Fletcher wheel Krastin out the hall and down the road.

At this point the audience, scattered across the road and pave-ment and wondering what the heck was that, found some bemusement and solidarity in the stunned look on a driver’s face as he came to a dead stop. We knew where the macabre procession wending its way down the road came from, he was the one in the dark.

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