LLOYD BECKMANN, BEEKEEPER
By Tim Stitz and Kelly Somes.
The title of this one-man show didn’t seem very promising to me. I was predicting a show about a character who’s a beekeeper. I don’t think I was being unfair in this presumption and really, if I went to see a show called Lloyd Beckmann, Beekeeper that didn’t feature someone doing a large amount of beekeeping, I could be justifiably put out. But beekeeping didn’t sound that promising a hook upon which to hang a whole show. How wrong I was.
First up, this is a wonderful piece of theatre even without the bee biz. But I’m not going to lie to you: there’s quite a hefty bit of beekeeping and beekeeping-related behaviour involved. It turns out, however, that this detailed discussion of apiaries and extraction processes and the life cycle and social relationships of the bee is fascinating. The entire opening section of the piece features performer Tim Stitz as Lloyd taking us through an extended lecture and demonstration on honey-making and the sophisticated world inside the hive. It’s great. And it’s educational. Don’t scoff. That’s something rarely praised in discussions of theatre, but how often do you look at a show in advance and subconsciously think ‘I am going to learn nothing from this experience’?
But all of the beekeeping gives way to a much larger and more emotionally focused work. Lloyd was Stitz’ paternal grandfather and through him the performer’s own family history is explored in a deeply loving but not untroubling way. I won’t give away the various painful events that Lloyd faced over his years but what is most striking about the work is how the focus is less on these events themselves and more on the way Lloyd (and his grandson, who is now playing him) reacted to these events, became shaped by them in ways that may have taken years or decades to become concrete.
The design is as affectionate and generous as the rest of the show, a wonderful evocation of a visit to an elderly relative’s home (complete with lollies and drinks and countless couches and cushions and armchairs). It’s one of those rare evenings where the little La Mama space is totally transformed into something else. Hurry up and see for yourself as it’s selling out fast.
At La Mama until Feb 14 with a few extra shows now on sale to keep up with demand - Acts of Deceit at the Courthouse has also been extended after the great reviews it's been getting.