Dante's Inferno At The Rag Factory Is Raw And Physical
Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆
We feel a bit like Dante stepping through the gates of hell when we enter the Rag Factory, located in one of Brick Lane side streets. After a few steps in the dark, we get into the performing space: an old and bare warehouse. Seating is old chairs, set up close to where the actors are warming up — jumping, lunging in close one to each other and screaming — it looks like capoeira. It all feels a bit weird and a little uncomfortable.
Suddenly, the play starts: it tells the story of Dante, a western society man who lives oppressed by 'the system'. He has a wife he doesn't love anymore, a job he doesn't like and a friend he can't stand. His monotonous routine goes on, day by day, until he attacks a homeless woman on the street. He's sent to jail, where he experiences hell and eventually enlightenment.
The acting is very physical and quite raw — the cast moves around the space continuously, jumping about and making extreme movements between one scene and another, giving the production a restless feel. The rhythm of the narration produces tension in the audience, and there's a lot of screaming during the acting. There's no stage, no costumes, no set dressing: the skill of the actors at creating different scenarios without these props is excellent.
Director Rocky Rodriguez Jr's re-interpretation of Dante's Inferno is sound, but the script gets preachy and the message — live for the moment — is simplistic.
This emotionally-challenging piece of theatre will suit those who want to see raw performance and eschew the glitz of the West End, although we felt it's a little overpriced. The production is going ahead in tribute to actor Kan Bonfils who passed away during rehearsals last week.
Dante's Inferno is on at The Rag Factory, 16-18 Heneage Street, E1 5LJ until 1 February 2015. Tickets are £12/£10, you can purchase them online in advance. Londonist saw this show with a complimentary press ticket.
Last Updated 16 January 2015