Dead men acting
By Clarissa Oon
What you don't see is what you get in this part stand-up comedy, part documentary on forensic medicine
IN THE film Shadow Of The Vampire, there is a clever in-joke on the blood-sucking genre: that the obsessive German auteur F. W. Murnau hired an actual vampire to star in his 1922 classic Nosferatu. Post Theater's The Real Forensic plays similar games with what the audience sees on stage. At the dialogue session at the end, its German director Max Schumacher reveals his hand: The actor playing celebrity forensic scientist Dr Mark Benecke is really Dr Benecke himself. The fictitious creation here is actor Murat Belcant, described in the programme notes as the 'most successful Belgian supporting actor in the Hollywood machine', appearing in Die Hard II and Eyes Wide Shut.
So who is Dr Benecke then? Only the 30-year-old prodigy of German science who can determine how long a corpse has lain undiscovered by studying the insects on it. (A check with the Singapore General Hospital revealed such a person existed. You never know with these artists.) Part stand-up comedy and part documentary, The Real Forensic sees Dr Benecke talking about his work, making droll asides and demonstrating on a corpse with a life of its own (played by Singaporean Deng Fuquan).
Like Shadow Of A Vampire, however, there are also elements of suspense, punctuated by a blistering, drum-and-bass soundtrack.
There are maggots, both live and on videotape. There are tales of how Dr Benecke solved crimes by researching corpses. These devices prey on the audience's parasitic fascination with murder and gore. And sex, of course. Deng as the corpse slinks about masterfully and flirts coyly with an unflinching Benecke. The Real Forensic tips its hat to the horror genre, but undercuts this seriousness by, deliberately, borrowing from TV game shows.
The performance is structured such that Benecke has to open a series of white, unmarked cake boxes, pulling out their contents which are apparently surprising to him. In a loose, almost incidental fashion, these items then make up the show, whether it is a videotape which he sticks into the player or dried mushrooms - eerily-resembling maggots - which he puts under a projector.
Nothing in The Real Forensic is too obvious as to become predictable nor too coded as to lose its audience. If you like, it is accessible postmodernism, with an insect-shaped cherry on top.
(c) Straits Times (Singapore)/Clarissa Oon.