In the beginning …
We start as simple templates of mind and soul ready to begin our continuous journey to become better and better human beings. From learning who we are to learning how to live with others either in the casually murky soup of society or the deeper, more tricky currents of love, this sojourn is what the Australian group Geppetto (composed of “pop cabaret princess, Emma Dean, and Green Room Award winner, Jake Diefenbach“) are using the fairy-tale cipher of Hansel and Gretel to explore the themes of learning how to navigate reality through a lush dreamscape in their new, provocative mini-rock opera/concert piece An End To Dreaming.
As they approach the stage in the darkness of existential doubt they move in a way that is not haphazard, but deliberate and somewhat mystical in nature. We see a Hansel-and-Gretel-esque pair draped in capes, faces and hair a gothy white with stylized markings. They test their paths as they go carefully forward, eventually reaching the points where they can begin to cast their spell. They begin their ritual by gently touching the instruments of their art; Emma Dean beginning on the synthesizer and Jake Diefenbach on the piano – telling us the story of how they began, in a darkness so complete that they forgot who they were before, and strove to find an identity as well as a path to bring them forth again into the light.
The key difference between this rendition of the Hansel and Gretel story is that this is about fighting a foe much harder to face than a witch or neglectful parents. Their chief opponent is themselves and their understanding of how they can find purpose in the world. The story of this journey is broken into different chapters with a prelude to each concept before each piece bookended by songs that show the beginning and end of their journey through each movement. These “preludes” are beautiful spoken word pieces that really connect you to the heart of their struggle. This is truly an existential coming of age story that goes far beyond the original text in scope.
The first movement is The Darkness (with the songs Black and The Devil you Know ) where they explore the realization of how much they do not know in the world, and how they might begin to figure out how to escape that blindness. The next section The Awakening (Is Anybody Out There? (see clip above) and Tomorrow) deals with the joy and fear that happen when you realize there can be different choices in life. They learn to move beyond their inner instincts to be afraid, to want obsessively, and to dream. The third section, The Reckoning ( This Is Where The Trouble Starts and Forged in Flames) they face who they have found themselves to be and confront that mirror vision of what they most fear as well as hope for in the future. The fourth movement is The Healing (It’s All Fun And Games and Stuck In The Mud ) is ”about pain..Not the blind pain of suffering, but ..one that is sexual and fragile.” A pain that is like a new skin you are just learning to wear. The finale of the show is The Light (Won This Game Before and An End To Dreaming [see below]) where they emerge into the edge of the future which is now. They still have new challenges to face, but they are all new journeys to reach for expectantly instead of fearfully. The bravery of Won This Game Before and the strengthening Affirmation to go forth into the world that is the song An End to Dreaming are powerful transmissions to be received from these two prophets of self -rediscovery, that this alone is a reason you make it to one of their last two performances.
Their journey is very subtle and esoteric… poignant and meaningful…helpful as well as persuasive to take a chance. Written directed and performed by Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach, with brilliant lighting and sound by Ben Stuart, we see not just that these two are great musicians , but amazing at theatre as well. Catch one of the last two shows this week if you can. You definitely won’t regret this once in your lifetime opportunity.
Writer: Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach
Director: Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach
Choreographer: Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach
Follow, follow, follow this modern-day Hansel and Gretel into a gothic, electronic wonderland. Geppetto, piloted by two award-winning Australian performers, beckon you into a haunting pop-fairytale about hope, despair and the transcending power of dreams.
1h 0m International Brisbane, Australia
Staycation: Time Traveler
VENUE #05: Robert Moss Theater at 440 Studios
Wed 15 @ 6 Thu 16 @ 5:30 Sat 18 @ 9 Sun 19 @ 4:15* Wed 22 @ 8:30 Sat 25 @ 9:45