Mayfest Shorts: History, History, History- The Cube

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On October 23rd 1956 The Corvin Cinema in Budapest was meant to be hosting the premier of a new football comedy, a work celebrating the genius of Hungary’s favourite son Ferenc Puskas. Instead bullets flew, lives were lost and a revolution was quashed. Sixty years later in Stoke Croft’s The Cube Deborah Pearson translates that movie and tells us of a story that spans generations, of a writer who loses his name, of an actors who loses his voice and a revolution that lost its war.

Sitting at a desk with the film projected behind her its less a traditional piece of theatre and more a multimedia essay that shares more than just a passing resemblance to film historian, maker and critic Mark Cousins. The two both make us see a film as something more than just the 24 frames a second picture in front of us, providing context and history that make us analyse the work we see in front of us in a completely different light. What in this case should be an obscure Hungarian example of a screwball Howard Hawks esque film starts gaining in a different form of power. By the end it aches with feeling and of potential dashed and crushed, of the past reflecting the present and what might have been.

Pearson is not a performer in the traditional sense, the work here is very much in the vein of an undergraduate lecture and it has the same intellectual stimulation of the best of these. Moments that don’t make sense or seem frustrating gimmicks at the beginning of the evening, such as when she is reading out her side of the conversation as the surtitles on the screen also play out later come into razor sharp clarity later. Like the best essayists she doesn’t play all her cards to early, letting each clue fall into place, only revealing her hand as and when it suits her. Its a magnetic piece of work that does what all great theatre should, probes and prods at its subject and ultimately reveals it in a new light.

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