Author and director: Renate Keerd, performed by Kompanii NII.
Production: Kompanii NII.
Co-production: STÜ and Tartu Uus Teater.
First performed on 14 of November 2012 in Tallinn.
Entering Tartu New Theatre I didn’t know what to expect. Partly because physical theatre, in essence, is unpredictable and quite direct (not to say shocking), but also because the director Renate Keerd remained rather laconic describing the show, thus leaving the audience in a labyrinth without a single clue. We all had to find our own way out – although it isn’t at all clear there is a way out.
Searching for a seat, jumping over stones, under the dancers’ focused gaze, was the first glimpse of what is to come. After a few minutes the roles changed, but having relaxed into their positions a bit, the viewers once again had to face the unknown; it is hard to achieve total comfort with such a bold approach.
The visions unraveling in front of the viewers’ eyes were done with quite handy means, topped off with a touch of humour. The modest range of props was balanced by the main material used to shape the show – the human body. The dancers’ bodies were used in quite a raw manner, testing their threshold for tension and pain. To get a better understanding of the pain experienced on stage, just ask a woman in high heels to walk on your back, or have five adults jump into your lap or on your shoulders all at once.
With its external brutality the show is impressive and sociocritical. While I saw the mixture of identities prevalent in today’s society and the tight interweaving of human relationships, then there could be hundreds of interpretations about the show. For example, in the last scene the dancers shape a river and a tent with trees and the sun from clothes they were wearing. It is one of the rare moments where they seem peaceful and happy. Watching it I started to think this scene expresses the idea that satisfaction can also be achieved with simple things – you just have to take time for it. Walking home through the streets of Tartu I started to feel that all that happiness and complacence was just an illusion they had created for themselves. By the time I got home my brain had generated six different explanations for the scene, which lasted merely a couple of minutes.
I think “PUNG” has achieved its goal, because even today, a week later, my mind tries to analyse what went on on stage. “PUNG” is undoubtedly one of those shows I will recommend to my friends in order to get their views and interpretation on what the author wanted to express. There really are many loose ends and perhaps only a select few manage to put all the pieces perfectly together.
Liisa Lotta Tomp: “PUNG” – like a labyrinth without an exit