Interactive drama as a jigsaw puzzle is maybe the best
description for German director Uwe Mengel's intriguing slant on a murder
story in which the audience dictates the play.
The first thing you see, on display from
5pm-7pm, is the prostrate body of a young woman in a pool of blood. The
murder victim is Zhen Ling, and four people who know her story are seated
separately in cubicles, ready to talk earnestly about her and themselves
- her sister, Li Ling; a close friend, Claire; Zhen Ling's former boyfriend,
Ryan; and his sister, Stella. One of the quartet admits to the killing.
Ask them questions
and gradually you form a picture of the crime, their relationships with
the victim and their feelings about one another.
each audience member it is an individual experience . The
information comes in snippets and in random order, depending on what
questions are asked and the way (and how often) you choose to move between
the four cubicles. Some viewpoints conflict, so decide which is the more
likely. You would love to get it all - but, short of the ability
to be in four places at once, no one is likely to. The
lack of any neat resolution and the inevitability of not finding some
pieces of the jigsaw contributes, oddly enough, to Lifeline 's air of
realism, reinforced by the conviction of the young cast in their well-prepared
improvisations. At the performance reviewed, Ming-Zhu Hii took the acting
honours for her subtle infusion of emotional undercurrents as Li Ling,
but who is to say that at other shows, and with different audience stimuli,
Eva Parkin (Stella), Hamish Michael (Ryan) or Vanessa Case (Claire) might
not do the same?
to Kathleen Murphy, who lies motionless as the corpse for two hours before
prying eyes - no mean achievement.