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August 11, 2012
9:00 am

Lipsynch, the epic work from Canadian playwright and director Robert Lepage opened at the Arts Centre on the weekend. Merging multimedia, live performance and large scale sets, it centers around a single story intertwined with the lives of nine characters.

The journey begins on a domestic airplane en route to Montreal. A baby’s cry is heard during the flight, and sometime later a hostess notices something amiss – the baby’s mother has passed away. Ada, an operatic soloist and passenger of the flight, continues to worry about the baby after arrival and eventually discovers the mother was a South American immigrant with no family or relatives. Touched, she adopts the child.

A theme quickly emerges during the Lipsynch. From the beginning with the crying of a child, every character seem to have a link with speech. Singing, dubbing and even synthesised vocalisations continue throughout. Lepage decided to make voice the focal point of Lipsynch as an “Exploration of oral communication in all forms.”

The work is broken into segments,  focusing on the nine protagonists, one at a time. The occasional cliffhanger and lingering questions gives Lipsynch a touch of a mini series at times.

One of the main conversation points of Lipsynch is that it goes for nine hours. Yes, nine hours. I want to underplay that point because honestly, as I sat there during the performance, I never felt bored or fidgety. Actually, talking with other audience members during the many intervals (there are four 20 minute breaks and a 45 minute interval for dinner), I couldn’t find anyone who found the length too demanding. Almost every time the interval sign showed, I thought to myself “Really? Didn’t we just have an interval? Has it been an hour already?”

The set continually transforms – one moment we are in the body of an aircraft, then a cosy living room, then in a train traveling through the London tube. It was pretty impressive – the crew behind the scenes deserves as much of a mention as the performing cast.

Aurally and visually stunning and a great story to boot, Lypsynch is a one of a kind work. I can’t imagine where or when you might get another chance to see anything like it. Recommended.

Lipsynch is playing at the Arts Center on August 11t and 12, 1:00pm-9:30pm.
For tickets visit artscentremelbourne.com.au.

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