28 January 2023
3.0 out of 5.0 stars
I’m not entirely certain what I think about this one. On one hand, the staging and soundscape and choreography was fantastic. On the other hand, the story was quite jumbled and not very cohesive. So I’m a little undecided on Butchered.
On a stage only decorated with a large butcher block table and bowl in the middle, and a large glowing meat grinder machine on one end, two actors clad in grubby aprons move in perfect unison, following a gruesome choreography of grinding up meat, seasoning it, and turning it into long strings of sausages, which are then sent upstairs, never to be seen again. Again and again, they repeat the grim movements in silence, with a stunning soundtrack of loud and disgusting noises.
It’s entrancing, really. With both the Butcher and the Assistant following the same movements perfectly over and over, before the show even begins.
Once this dark dance stops, we are thrown right into the show. A dark basement, a butcher who follows orders of the people in charge upstairs, unseen voices with jumbled instructions, an assistant thrown into this setting despite their ambitions of being an artist, forced to work a dreary job they have no interest in.
It’s a compelling story, interesting in the way it is presented. Not much is explained, the audience left to draw their own conclusions. However, there are some spaces within this dark tale that felt out of place and unconnected, like a moment where the assistant tells a story to the audience while the butcher is busy, and then asks the butcher if they cannot see the people. This is the only point in the entire show where the fourth wall is broken, it is never mentioned before or after and felt somewhat out of place.
I do feel the story could have been explored with more care and depth if there was more time for the show than just one hour. It seemed a bit rushed, and towards the end took on a lot of speed, powering through changes in dynamics and emotional epiphanies of both characters. I’d have liked to see this explored in a more cohesive way.
Still, it’s an interesting, dark experience with careful movement and a powerful soundtrack!