Things are not as they seem. If there was one central message in Alley Theatre and Neworld Theatres’s The Ridiculous Darkness, that may be it, but this kind of reduction doesn’t lend itself to the complexity of colonialism and capitalism. Led by a skilled team of six actors who swap roles, and backed by an admirable family of performers and real life people, The Ridiculous Darkness forays into uncomfortable “foreign” lands and then brings it home for us in more ways than one.
An adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and influenced by the adaptation of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, the script was originally written as a German radio play and then translated for the Vancouver stage. Despite the multiple adaptations, the plot remains cohesive. This harrowing journey “up this river together” is structurally brave, blending the past and the present in a relatable way.
The play begins with testimonials from the trial of a Somalian pirate initiating a domino effect of changing perspectives. Adaptation Facilitator/Producer Daniel Arnold takes a page from Wolfram Lotz, the German playwright making his job to “never write about things I don’t know about”. A series of interviews, discussions and workshops informed the content. From the powerful (a charged performance by coltan farmers) to the hilarious (a hypnotic dance routine by televangelists), The Ridiculous Darkness continues to reveal slippery truths for an epic two and a half hours. A warm, grand, emotional finale leaves the audience smiling.
– Juljka Nadir