4 show

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 12:00am

4 Show, Theatre No! McAulay Studio, Hong Kong Arts Centre January 25 At a time when most theatre performances are drenched with ironic statements, tedious melodrama or thoughtless cacophony - and sometimes all of those - it is soothing to find a collective who manage to see through the superficiality and get back to simplicity. Theatre No! are on a mission to rediscover the beauty of austerity.

However, the stark minimalism of 4 Show may leave mainstream theatre-goers - those who feed upon tear-jerking musicals with laugh-a-minute gags and overtly saccharine endings - gasping with disbelief.

Never mind a plot, there was not even dialogue. It was an hour made up of only symbolic movements and objects being moved around.

Dismiss this as self-indulgence at your peril. Obvious emotions and understandable gestures are not the point - what Theatre No! want to deliver are powerful images.

Casting aside messages and stories, the antics left room for the audience to unleash their imagination.

These were surreal actions - a man setting fire to a book, another man force-feeding himself before throwing up, a projection of a face braving a rain of mahjong pieces.

It was as if the directors started with spectacular visual arts pieces, and then inflated them into life-size, real-life movements.

The absence of spoken dialogue strengthened the production's potency. This collage of impressive movements was dark, sublime and poetic all at once.

The collective, a quartet of set designers known for eccentric stage productions, let their expertise show. The tricks they played with stage effects were extremely successful.

Lighting, music and the set gelling perfectly.

Never have words meant so little. 4 Show proved how sincerity and subtlety could work in a field dominated by petty conversations and grandiose gestures that are much ado about nothing.

Theatre No! have again proven themselves to be an innovative creative engine enthusiasts should keep an eye on.