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Canberra Today 3°/5° | Friday, August 19, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

The genius of Christopher Samuel Carroll

Christopher Samuel Carroll in “The Stranger”… his performance is at once cinematic in delivery, he uses the space and his body in a way that is paradoxically theatrical.

Theatre / “The Stranger”, based on “L’etranger” by Albert Camus. Performed by Christopher Samuel Carroll. At Ralph Wilson Theatre until December 17. Reviewed by JOE WOODWARD

A MAN standing alone in an empty space with an audience of jurors sometimes exposed under the lights of the theatre; such is the space and the isolation of Meursault, Camus’ ordinary young man trapped in a social and cultural void. 

The genius of Christopher Samuel Carroll lies in his ability to distil that sense of foreboding and disquiet that each ordinary citizen of the world might experience as night terrors when dreams evoke the subconscious awareness of vulnerability and truth. This takes a form of theatrical and artistic genius that we, as audience members, are invited to experience with “The Stranger”.

This is theatre requiring perceptive listening; a skill so rarely required in entertainment in the 21st century. The benefits of this requirement are found in literary theatre of the kind offered by Camus. A rich, though essentially simple story, “The Stranger” requires the simplicity of a well-articulated voice and a power to draw one’s attention. 

While Carroll’s performance is at once cinematic in delivery, he uses the space and his body in a way that is paradoxically theatrical. His work is deceptive. He shapes the story powerfully to run like a river through psychological and social terrains that are largely unexplored in their complex and existential realms. And like a river, the constancy of its direction is unstoppable.

The audience is a visible player in this event. We face each other across the divide where the actor glides and draws attention to key moments of significance. We may also drift at times within the hypnotic quality of the voice. But these moments draw us in for consideration. 

“The Stranger” is also our mirror image. Do we speak freely what we feel or what “we ought to say” to save face within an ugly world? Carroll’s presentation allows us the freedom of contemplation and assertion of free thought that challenges our immediate reactions. 

Let us hope our city recognises and values the extraordinary artistic insight and skills offered in the work of Christopher Samuel Carroll. 

With a sell-out season this week, two additional performances of “The Stranger” are being presented on Thursday, December 16 and Friday, December 17.


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