In Search of Dinozord
Created by: Faustin Linyekula
Soundings Theatre, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 27th Feb 2020
Reviewed by: Sam Hollis
In Search of Dinozord does not exhibit a piece of rehearsed theatre so much as a raw and necessary retelling of horrors that may otherwise be forgotten. The performers are in pain, reluctant, and in its final moments, the show’s creator Faustin Linyekula appears drained. It wasn’t a piece they wanted to perform, but that they had to.
In Search of Dinozord haunts us with stories of past friendships shadowed by political upheaval in Zaïre, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The show opens with a hair-raising crescendo of clashing sounds as Linyekula loudly chants, his cries drowned out by the assaulting noise. Linyekula tells us about a friend who died of plague, a writer with a dream whose work now overflows from a dishevelled tin suitcase. Actors Papy Maurice Mbwiti and Antoine Vumilia Muhindo share their experiences also – Muhindo through crushing lyrical memoirs and images taken in prison projected onto a large wooden panel at the back of the stage.
In Search of Dinozord is an obstructive show. The story is sometimes overshadowed by dramatic movement or the imagery pulls our attention from the fragments of spoken word. At times, seemingly by design, this sense of constant crosscutting makes it tough to follow and digest. However, for me this works to fuel an emotional experience in which pulsating movement, shadows, sound, and sparse but powerful visuals layer to give the jumping story resonance.
In Search of Dinozord ends with a solo dance set to Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile, which breaks from the abrasive choreography into a beautiful, hip-hop infused finale. This leaves a hopeful taste in our mouths and brings the show full circle.
Linyekula describes his search for beauty and his dream to change African theatre and literature with real pain. To him these dreams are essential to life. While I can’t promise you will follow every step of his journey, you will certainly react to it, and you will not be able to look away.