How a show with big theatre names, Sylvaine Strike, Craig Morris and Greg Melvill-Smith, attracts an audience of eight is confounding. Where is everyone?
This three-act production is a sensory exploration of us sapiens. What we do. Who we do it to. Why we do what we do. Performed and written by the incomparable Craig Morris and the indomitable Greg Melvill-Smith, Simply Sapiens is strange, bold and something to behold.
Act 1: Vir(us). Directed by Sylvaine Strike. Performed by Craig Morris.
Morris is creepily magnificent in this abstract musing on modern life. Using mime and physical theatre, he presents an unravelling mind, a life on the precipice.
Confident and smiling, a man in charge. He controls the soundscape, the technological, an interesting theatrical device showing him dictating his life (or so he thinks). His reliance on technology to feed his needs becomes the cause of his alarm: the telephone rings incessantly, he cannot turn the noise off anymore.
He can’t do this forever. Cracks are inevitable. His smile is increasingly shattered with anguished grimacing. “No stress” he repeats. “Unspeakable… On the brink… Trust” are mangled up in his dwindling poise. “Heart” he gasps. Too little too late.
Act 2: Crossing. Directed by Quintin Wils. Performed by Greg Melvill-Smith.
Melvill-Smith uses his miming power to guide our journey, following human development from our ape ancestors to modern man.
In the beginning, we were hungry so we attacked and killed for food. In the end, we are greedy, so we attack and kill for power. Melvill-Smith shows us cavemen when man’s animalistic instinct couldn’t stop us from acting out all whims – no social norms dictated any behaviour. Melville-Smith moves us forward into history, shows us the beginnings of society and the forming of (our modern understanding of) the family unit. Things get better with civilisation? No. In a particularly poignant moment, Melvill-Smith enacts a prayer with religious imagery and then kills in the name of it. Human nature is ruthless when we believe violent acts to be justified.
Crossing looks at the violence which permeates man’s history. If it has been present since man’s start on earth, will it be there until the end? It will be our end.
Act 3: Going Static. Directed by Megan Willson. Performed by Greg Melvill-Smith & Craig Morris.
In the third act, Morris and Melvill-Smith depart from abstraction and under Megan Willson’s careful crafting, deliver a substantial piece that transports us to the middle of nowhere in blistering heat.
Two stranded men, a driver, John (Melvill-Smith), and his boss, Andrew Milton (Morris). Different in attitude and outlook, but both resolute in their ways. To survive, they must overcome their differences – find their humanity – in trust and forgiveness and understanding.
Morris plays Milton, the greedy corporate climber who cares for no one but himself until he really needs to care for himself. He panics for his valuable possessions yet has no concept of the truly valuable in life. He wallows in self-pity that he has no one to love him… John, at least, has a family to go home to and has reason to fight for himself.
Going Static is a study in humility, in facing the truth, in owning up to who you are, reaching out, opening up, and relenting to living without the need to control all around you.
Morris and Melvill-Smith’s performances are inspired. Strike’s, Wils’, and Willson’s direction is clean, slick and polished. Simply Sapiens is simply sensational. Go.
– Sarah Roberson
Click here for production info. SImply Sapiens is on today 8 July @ 4pm @ PJ’s.