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Re-Member Me - Melbourne International Arts Festival

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by Elizabeth Quinn (subscribe)
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Part seance, part documentary, and totally original theatre
Re-Member Me, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Dickie Beau, Hamlet, Shakespeare
Image via Melbourne International Arts Festival website

Is there any play more enduring than Hamlet? Whether you skim-read a soliloquy in high school English class, or saw it performed live at the Globe Theatre itself, most people will know something about Shakespeare's most famous work. The tale of a young man's torment after the death of his father speaks to us in a way that has allowed Hamlet to retain relevance over hundreds of years. But it must be asked, after all this time, can the story of Hamlet tell us anything new? Dickie Beau's Re-Member Me tells us that yes, it can.

When Dickie Beau turns his lip-syncing skills to the Dane in Re-Member Me, the results are surprising and heartfelt. No lip-sync performance would be complete without a disco-ball and impeccable voguing, and Dickie Beau delivers on both with his high-energy performance. A mix-tape of some of theatre's most famous portrayals of Hamlet offers structure to the piece, but as the performance continues, it becomes less about Hamlet as a character, and more about the men who played him. Every performance of Hamlet takes place in a different context - the actors playing him are living different lives, and the audiences are seeing them in different social and political climates. Re-Member Me examines the way forces outside of a performance intrinsically change the way we react to and remember the experience, highlighting the fact that no matter how old it may be, some stories can stay with us forever.

Re-Member Me, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Dickie Beau, Hamlet, Shakespeare
Image via Melbourne International Arts Festival website

In his one-man show, Dickie Beau does not use lip-syncing to create impressions or mimic famous faces - instead he uses it to remind us of people who are no longer there, their voices highlighting their absence. In a stage littered with mannequins and costumes, he is multiplied through video footage throughout the performance. He bustles around the stage, lip syncing, dancing and dressing the plastic figures around him, while the screens behind him chime in to create portraits of Hamlet throughout the ages. Audience members not familiar with John Gielgud or Laurence Olivier may struggle to connect with the performance at first, because it can feel like these voices are sharing an in-joke you were never a part of, and the screens can make it hard to stay engaged. But once the performance settles into its rhythm, it no longer matters if you don't know to whom these voices are referring to - some stories really are universal.

Re-Member Me is camp, playful and at times, a sublime theatrical experience. In taking one of the most famous texts of all time and creating a human mix-tape with it, Dickie Beau's performance highlights the ephemeral nature of theatre itself. This is not a re-creation, it's an ode to the act of remembering, and the performances that exist only in our memories.
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Why? Award-winning lip synch maestro and intrepid drag fabulist, Dickie Beau, turns himself into a human Hamlet mix-tape.
When: 17 - 21 October
Where: Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne
Cost: $39 - $49
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