Fringe 2016: A Perfect Wagner Rite

We’ve all had that moment as children; shaking the plastic beads in a toy kaleidoscope and squinting through the spy-hole at the patterns within. In this 60 minute extravaganza, the audience are invited on a journey of discovery and voyeurism, framed by Wagner’s epic operatic cycle. In the darkened temple-chamber we are brought into a world of heightened perception, where garish demons and BDSM slaves await. This piece artfully by-passes the erotic, opting instead to go straight for the pornographic. Throughout, the piece makes use of a voyeuristic camera – footage from the stage-floor, projected from camera to screen in real-time, resembling the grainy footage of the amateur pornographer. As we are told in the programme for the night’s events, “Pornhub fills in the gaps”.

Artistically and theatrically adventurous, A Perfect Wagner Rite embraces a heady smorgasbord of German cultural iconography; eagles and cabaret collide, and myth is superimposed on mass culture with explosive results. Musically, it’s a magical mystery tour, raking Wagner’s own operatic score over a mixture of techno and cabaret, with even ‘99 Luftballons’ putting in an appearance for good measure. It is a piece which reforms the idea of adulthood, using sex as a medium for exploring our relationship with the carnival, the grotesque, and the ideas that form the basis of who we are.

Enter with your eyes open, for A Perfect Wagner Rite is a feast for the eyes, the set a deluge of props and puppet-like costume pieces which dance for the hour in the animating power of the strobe-lights. In these costumes, anonymity is part of the game, identity shown in bodies, not faces. At the end of the hour, the audience takes a moment, for as the lights come up, there is nothing left, but the fading music and the detritus of a theatrical orgy.

Síofra Ní Shluaghadháin

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