Review: Adrift, Z-Arts

https-cdn.evbuc.comimages328058501035990472651original

Adrift (a work in progress) by Kapow! Dance

Z-Arts, Manchester [17.07.17]

You are invited to witness two bodies. Lost and found at sea. Friends, Lovers, Enemies, Strangers. The only thing that is consistent is some sort of relationship because the sea and the raft change direction and momentum continually.

Adrift is an exploration of stories at sea, portrayed by two women on a pivoting raft journeying across waters built on melted plastic bags. Part environmental commentary, part relationships case study, this piece challenges us to reflect on what moments between two people truly mean and how our actions impact those closest to us. We see this quite literally in Adrift. One movement from one of the women will cause a complete change in the other’s positioning. This presents us with a view from which to examine the changing power balance between the women at different points in their far water escapades.

The most visually interesting moment for me were watching the women on opposite corners of the raft, slowly dipping up and down in a circular fashion. This continued simplistic image, gave host to a whole heap of thoughts surrounding the mundane nature of life even when things are hectic and how routine doesn’t venture too far from our mental doorsteps. It also placed a great deal of acknowledgement towards how someone can hugely affect someone else by doing very little. I guess that’s almost like when we see something bad happen to someone else but don’t always do anything about it. It reminded me of that poem about keeping your own yam on your table from GCSE English Lit.

The use of body percussion alongside stunning lift and balance sequences make this piece perfect to experience in the round with little need for extravagant staging. The trust between the two dancers during their balances is an active sharing of trust and honesty between them but also with the space and the audience members in the room. It fosters a sense of unity which is hard to achieve in smaller scale works and even more challenging when a work is so early in its development as this piece. For this reason, this effort is to be applauded.

Verdict: Adrift is an exciting piece of dance theatre that is already showing bags of potential in the early stages of its development. Excited to see the completed product.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Why can’t the awkward black guy get the girl? Review: Sister Act, Palace Theatre

SISTER ACT. Alexanda Burke as Deloris Van Cartier and Ensemble small. Photo by Tristram Kenton

Image: Tristram Kenton

Sister Act The Musical, directed by Craig Revell Horwood

Palace Theatre, Manchester [24.07.17]

This is not another My Country but it falls in a similar ball park. Let’s start with the positives shall we…

Mother Superior is in need. She prays to the Lord in the hopes that he will help save the church… And out pops, Deloris Van Cartier disco diva in search of fame, fortune and, a white dress and fur, just like Donna Summer’s.

Sister Act The Musical is not the theatrical version of the film. If you go to see this expecting the fire that is Whoopi Goldberg alongside the best soundtrack ever (everybody loves Hail Holy Queen and I Will Follow Him, even if they deny it), you’ll be very disappointed. However I must say the songs in this (though very different) were upbeat and catchy. Take Me To Heaven and It’s Good To Be A Nun were certainly whizzing around in my head post show, that’s for sure. The show is full of good songs, some okay dance routines and larger than life characters. Alexandra Burke’s Sister Mary Clarence is even more extra than Whoopi Goldberg’s and at one point, I must say I doubted if she could keep that up for the whole show. To my surprise, she certainly did, bringing constant laughs and diva charms to the room. This was a good musical. But…

And, this is a big but…

Why has Eddie suddenly become a white guy? Before you head down to the comments section to ask me why i’m always bashing you over the head with diversity, hear me out. In the film, Eddie is a black cop and Deloris’ lover, Vince (whose name is Curtis in the musical, but the character is basically the same) is a white guy. In this musical, their races have been swapped around. ‘Well, why is that a problem?’, I hear you ask.

Firstly, let’s contextualise this. Eddie is the loveable, awkward (more awkward in musical than film) cop who basically saves Deloris’ bacon (well, the nuns actually do that) and in the musical, he actually gets with Deloris (this is only implied in the film). Curtis(Vince) owns a casino in which Deloris wants to sing and the two are having an affair, which becomes apparent when he gives his wife’s blue fur coat to her as a gift. When Deloris tries to return the coat, she witnesses a murder conducted by Curtis and his men, resulting in Eddie protecting her and her having to hide out as a nun. In switching the races of Eddie and Curtis/Vince, the white saviour rhetoric is being subliminally peddled alongside the stereotype of the violent, thuggish black male. What makes people so uncomfortable with the idea that an awkward black guy can save the day and get the girl? And to top that off, the only black man on the stage is being criminalised.

I’ve seen quite a bit of messy representation and erasure of black men on stage recently and theatre really needs to start coming up with some answers, fast. And before anyone brings up some colour-blind casting nonsense (which is a racist mess all of its own), attention is repeatedly drawn to Deloris’ race throughout this play and therefore it is impossible for anyone to claim that they do not see the race of the people on stage. Slight tangent: it doesn’t even make sense for the white nuns to keep referring to Deloris’ race, as there are two other black women on stage playing nuns. Surely the white sisters would have experienced this ‘shock’ over an African American nun when the other two black sisters joined the order? Or maybe once again, we have blackness being erased before our eyes and the only blackness that can possibly be acknowledged on the stage is Deloris’… I’m still hoping that theatres will eventually understand that people of colour don’t stop being people of colour just because they’re on a stage, in the same way that white people don’t stop being white. Erasing blackness and not having a conversation about the fact that this is happening all the time, is only feeding the misguided idea that whiteness is some sort of ‘norm’.

Some of you will be reading this thinking ‘why is she moaning again, there’s already a black woman in the leading role?’ My response to that is how many times do you see a black woman as the lead in a musical? Or in any type of theatre for that matter. And don’t just come back at me with Dream Girls and Lion King. Having a black woman as the lead, does not change the fact that the racial politics external to her casting can still be highly problematic. Too much time and energy is put into passing the book and avoiding accountability surrounding diversity issues in casting. Whether conscious or not, a decision was made that turned a black cop into a white cop and a rich, white thug into a rich, black thug – feeding the idea that white men are heroes and black men shoot to kill. This is a narrative that should be challenged not peddled. But what’s more concerning is that it isn’t being talked about.

Verdict: Yes, song and gag wise this musical is good fun. But, problematic representations have left a very bad taste in my mouth.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: Gutted, HOME

Gutted - High-Res Image

Gutted by Liz Richardson and Tara Robinson

HOME, Manchester [20.07.17]

Three toilets. One lid up. One lid down. One lid-less. The sort of breakfast bar that you’d found in the Studio Christmas catalogue. A cake stand filled with at least nine delights. Some flowers. Some ‘Thank You’ cards. Red Sauce. Brown Sauce. Lots and lots and lots of Activia Yoghurt.

Gutted invites us to listen to Liz’s true story of her experience of ulcerative colitis. It is a comic and honest exploration of a medical condition that has a drastic impact on quality of life, but is yet to become a condition that the general public have a good awareness of. Liz takes us on a journey through her hospital trips and treatments and, her feelings surrounding what happened to her at different points in the process. Her exploration of shame, pain and dignity is highly moving and prompts the audience to empathise (rather than sympathise) with her experiences.

What truly made this show unique was its ability to share a serious topic with humour, but also its method of raising an audience’s knowledge of a medical condition, without giving off the vibe of a boring science lesson. Liz draws her digestive system on to her torso and marks out the changes that the surgery she is asked to undergo makes to this system. The process itself is described via voice over as Liz draws. This reminded me of a number of things: the bits of A Level Biology that were actually interesting, my time working on hospital wards as a trainee SLT and my sheer love of diagrams. This was a very informative element of the piece which did not feel out of place nor did it feel as though we were sitting in a lecture. I always like to leave a show knowing that I’ve learnt something and it’s refreshing to leave with a heightened knowledge of something concrete rather than leaving solely with abstract ideas and feelings. That being said, Gutted gave me lots to think about in terms of how we as individuals perceive the experiences of others and how we navigate feelings surrounding shame and stigma.

Liz is incredibly gifted at drawing laughs from the audience, as she is at making them comfortable. This stretches as far as her inviting audience members onto the stage to read aloud notes in her thank you cards, in exchange for a fairy cake or a bottle of beer. Despite usually not being a fan of audience interaction, I felt that this was well executed and it almost (we’re not quite there yet) tempted me to volunteer myself. That alone, is an achievement!

Arguably the most hilarious element of this show is the input of Liz’s stoma to the conversation. It is both an interesting and clever concept to give the stoma a voice within Liz’s experience, especially when it certainly knows how to crack a joke about its day job, “it’s not an easy job, gotta deal with whatever shit gets thrown at you”. Giving a not-so-inanimate part of the body an opinion, welcomes us to understand Liz’s situation from a multitude of perspectives. This is also built upon by the myriad of characters we encounter who were part of Liz’s journey. We meet everyone from a ‘softly spoken nurse in crocs’ to one of her slightly dippy colleagues, ‘Matt’. Initially, I found it a little difficult to follow the character changes (Liz performs every single character). However, the display board behind her included the names of all characters and highlighted individual names as she performed them, this was a really useful tool and certainly aided the accessibility of this performance.

Verdict: Gutted is a hilarious, honest and important piece of theatre that raises awareness of a health condition that conversation is far too silent on.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: The Marriage of Kim K, 53two

18893446_1894751183903006_547074163689677909_n

The Marriage of Kim K by Leoe & Hyde

53two, Manchester [15.07.17]

I promise this is not a Kardashian car crash (not sure whether that will encourage or dissuade you from reading), quite the opposite actually, it’s pure genius.

I’ll be the first to stand up and be counted for having an issue with the Kardashians and this opera hasn’t changed that. It has however used Kim as a trope to tell a compelling story of three unusually intertwined relationships: Amelia and Stephen (they’re not famous yet or are they), The Count and Countess (from Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro) and of course, Kim Kardashian and her 72 day husband, Kris Humphries.

Our welcome party begins when we join Amelia loafing out on the sofa after a long day to eat and watch TV – relatable much. The music that escorts is a charming classical arrangement with undertones of the best Hilary Duff megamix you could possibly get your hands on. This of course sets the scene for Kim’s entrance. Yasemin Mireille gives a truly on point performance as Kim, to the point where every time she comes on stage I roll my eyes the same way I do when someone mentions the real Kim in any capacity. She has the mannerisms down to a T and this shows itself perfectly in her makeup tutorial demo. Her interactions with Kris (played by James Edge) are hilarious and almost had me wondering whether the real Kim and Kris were ever capable of being this entertaining. Having said that, Kris appears to be the sort of sex hungry pig that you’d bump into in Flares and spend the night avoiding and, James delivers this unfortunate vision with continued high energy and skill.

On to the Count and Countess (played by Emily Burnett and Nathan Bellis) and my, my these two have some pipes on them. The singing is really quite exceptional and both actors deliver a passionate and at points humorous story of the breakdown of their relationship. This sandwiched alongside flashes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, with Amelia and Stephen as the filling and you’ve got yourself a slightly odd but captivating dose of TV focused weekday evenings dropped onto the 53two stage.

What’s truly enjoyable about The Marriage of Kim K is that it makes opera accessible and offers us a trio of love stories that we are able to relate to one if not all of them in some sort of way. The cross referencing of The Marriage of Figaro with Kim and Kris’ 72 day wedded bliss is just brilliant. I came out of this wanting to further analyse parallels between these post joining of hands dramas. The juxtaposition of the worlds in which these relationships reside gives us an opportunity to reflect on our compulsion as people to try to mend things and our methods of deciding when to let things alone.

Amelia and Stephen (played by Amelia Gabriel and Stephen Hyde) are in fact a real life couple and their relationship was weaved into the redevelopment of this show. Everything about this is ridiculously cute and whilst I’m not big on cute, I’ve watched a Kim K inspired opera so my life views have been changed in a temporary form of forever. Both Amelia and Stephen give honest and engaging performances that really pull us into their world and make us root for them to sort out their differences. Whilst I cannnot understand Amelia’s obsession with Kim, I temporarily had a similar one with Peter Andre (well, watching his show My Life) and I guess on those grounds myself and Amelia are rather alike. Mozart on the other hand, well I guess I can compare Stephen’s obsession to my ex watching the same three Steven Seagal films over and over.. The contrast between the couple’s Kim K vs Mozart obsessions are hilarious. Arguing over the TV is such a regular part of daily life that we forget how much of a controlling device a remote actually is. Yes, this was certainly a very relatable format which was a great way to ease opera virgins like myself into the genre.

Verdict: The Marriage of Kim K sounds torturous but is in fact a brilliant way to spend a Saturday afternoon at the theatre. I encourage all Kim K fans and phobes alike to go and see this pleasantly surprising and wonderfully entertaining show. Nice work, Leoe & Hyde.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Review: 10000 Gestures, MIF @ Mayfield

MIF17-Boris-Charmatz-10000-Gestures-credit-Tristram-Kenton-3jpeg

Image: Tristram Kenton

10000 Gestures by Boris Charmatz

Mayfield, Manchester International Festival [14.07.17]

We’re invited into the eerily empty Mayfield depot. The sense of abandonment is very real as we await some sort of action beyond the brightening and dimming of the light strips eagerly positioned on thirteen pillars. One woman bursts into eye line and what follows is a bizarre but honest physical analysis of the human condition and its ever-evolving state.

Set in an evocative space, the orgy of compulsive movement that unfolds from the myriad of bodies is nothing short of mesmerising. Reactive and challenging, we are watching bodies being bodies. Each movement is nuanced and present and occurs within the uneven sandwiching of frantic action and unnerving stillness. This is much more than a spectacle in that it challenges us to decide whether we want to give meaning to each movement. And what’s more important is that we are free to react to that how ever we please – there isn’t a concrete or correct answer in this thoroughly peculiar pursuit.

Heavily rhythmic and rife with precision juxtaposed with indecision, 10000 Gestures isn’t meant to give us specific bits of information at specific points in time. Its purpose lies in proposing 10000 opportunities to its audience and welcoming us to choose, though not always freely, what we would like to devour and digest. But in placing us in uncomfortable and uncertain situations with little freedom over what occurs, Boris Charmatz has successfully replicated a typical state within our existence, in a unique yet unsettling environment. It’s probably not the average person’s cup of tea to have a bunch of half naked shouting people climbing on top of them, touching them or requesting that they perform specific actions, but this is an experience that doesn’t even have tea on its radar. At points, you are wondering ‘what the fuck’ is happening and why and, everything about that reaction is okay. This was never going to be a comfortable experience and I imagine that people who hoped for one probably wanted their money back. It was however the most original and absurd thing that I have seen in years and for that I wholeheartedly commend it.

The 10000 gestures offered to us are a display of punctuation for the human existence, that takes us on a journey of lust, elation, desire, insanity and pain. This was Fantasia for adults on a stagnated treadmill heading for a euphoric revolution. The aim here was not to lead us to a destination but give us an abundance of tools to reflect on what’s what and where’s where, without getting overly existential about it. A multitude of scenarios without a frame to stop and start in allowed space for a slightly disheveled audience to compose themselves among the chaos that was occurring both on and off ‘stage’.

Verdict: 10000 Gestures is a captivating, raw and challenging display of bodies being pushed to the brink of their abilities and existence being measured, dissected and reassembled before our eyes. It is exposing, both literally (a few knobs and bums are flashed about) and metaphorically of the fragility and vulnerability of our existence. But most importantly it welcomes us to reflect on our resilience and in that there is healing. Nice one, Boris!

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Review: Available Light, Palace Theatre

available-light-785x486

Image: JJ Tiziou

Available Light by Lucinda Childs, Frank Gehry and John Adams;

performed by The Lucinda Childs Company

Palace Theatre, Manchester; part of Manchester International Festival [07.07.17]

Edging forward. Black. Red. White. Two quartets and a trio. This is what silence sounds like.

A repeated phrase occurs constantly. Duets, trios and quartets of dancers complete the phrase in cycles. Changing direction is juxtaposed against moments of static. There’s a techno xylophone vibe in the air and we watch the phrase repeated again and again. Different groupings moving completely in sync, commencing the sequence at different times. And then it elapses.

This is more like a pause than a fermented stop. It’s like the moment that you spend waiting for a lift to start moving or for a programme to buffer on I-player. This moment is minuscule in the grand scheme of things and usually a pocket of time that we would miss or flit away. Yet baring witness to stillness is something we rarely have the opportunity to subject ourselves to. We don’t get to hover in time and watch movements in their infancy transpire from fine to gross: it is not a privilege that comes with modern life. Pace moves much faster than we do and we’re left in a cycle of aspiration and failure to keep up. Each time we observe the same eloquent phrase, it is not merely to display technique. It is to bring us into consciousness and ask us to question all the moments in our lives that may well be mundane, linear and robotic.

Following suit is compulsive. We cannot help but respond to the storm in a teacup that reflects going through the motions. Moving together in unison brings power but standing still surrounded by organised, regimented chaos demands a certain sort of composure. But that is a state that is not easily acquired when perched on a pedestal that is somewhat out of sync with its surroundings.

There’s an urgency, an increased systole-diastole dynamic in sound. It’s almost irrelevant whether you are stopping or starting because what if state you’re in your experience is shared. It’s part of a greater movement.

Available Light is as much about stagnated progress as it is about transitioning forward, and stillness. Red lights give bodies a golden statuesque complexion, whilst white lights soften the heat to a pale bronze. A wake up call to reality. We come into this space along. Exist both together and separately. Then leave alone.

Verdict: This was a very unique piece of dance and for that it should be commended. Possibly not one for anyone with very wayward attention, though I have the attention span of a flea and was with this all the way. Original, thrilling and conscious.

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: Table Manners, Hat Fair

table-manners-03-1000x500

Table Manners by Avant Garde Dance

Hat Fair, Winchester [01.07.17]

*Review produced as part of Hat Fair Young Critics

A couple are sitting in a restaurant. We are aware that something needs to be said and that there is both a reluctance and awkwardness about this unspoken segment. A waiter is a third wheel, ever so keen to lose the tricycle scenario and form a bicycle with the woman in pink. We have a triangle upon us. Drinks are poured aplenty. Polite table politics soon become disembodied into questioning and exploring relationship dynamics and cultural shifts. Manners aren’t always in need of minding.

Table Manners is an energised, honest and compelling piece of dance that encourages us to reflect on the habitual behaviours that surround food and mealtimes and, how such behaviours can be reflected within our wider world relationships and our feelings towards ourselves. This is a work of dance-theatre that transcends the boundaries of the audience being mere observers and invites us into a space that is constantly transforming and changing its rules of etiquette. From Brexit banter to self-service checkout debuts, this is a world in which what happens physically and what is said can both complement and defy each other simultaneously.

What is quite captivating about Tony Adigun’s choreography is the importance of moments in their many shapes and the silent discussion that they introduce and manipulate through movement and occasional break off interactions with audience members. It is not often that dance theatre welcomes audiences to partake in the world and still be exposed to the same level of powerful dance performance almost in their lap. Performers Duwane Taylor, Julie Minaai and Sasha Shadid are attentive to audience participants and invite them to live in the world in a shared, intimate environment.

Dance theatre provides a platform to open dialogue and make reference to societal situations that are avoided, sidelined or misunderstood. Through movement, music and pockets of language, Table Manners invites us to acknowledge the harsh reality of colonialism and how it is still able to rampantly white wash experiences. We see Julie eating Chinese take away with a piece of East Asian music playing in the background. This is soon drowned out by the blaring of Rule Britannia overhead. This was a striking and powerful moment that truly laid bare the reality of how even eating a meal has become a specimen for British modification. This moment was visually striking and poignant and reminded me of Seeta Patel’s brilliant dance piece, Not Today’s Yesterday.

Speaking of captivating moments, watching Duwane and Sasha frantically nestle clementines in the folds and cuppings that Julie creates with her body is rather beautiful. Given that citrus fruits symbolise good fortune for a new year within Chinese culture, it is interesting that Julie’s two love rivals wish to inundate her with an overflowing gifting of clementines, which by the end of her ordeal she no longer wants. Sometimes we’re placed into situations where we are given a lot and expected to want and be grateful for what we have been presented with but, this removes a sense of freedom and agency around what happens to us. This is a moment that allows us to reflect on choice focused moments in our lives. It is quite unlike anything I have seen in dance theatre before and for that reason, it will certainly hold a place in my memory for ways to welcome an emotional response in an unconventional and unique manner.

Verdict: Table Manners is a welcome party to a platter of behaviour patterns surrounding food and human relationships. The strength of cultural reference points juxtaposed against the pastel costume palette allows for us to focus on the multiple narratives at play whilst appreciating the visual synergy of complimentary colours and off the chain physicality. Avant Garde Dance are a company I look forward to seeing much more of.

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: Mr Lucky’s Party, Hat Fair

 

avanti-1000x500Mr Lucky’s Party by Avanti

Hat Fair, Winchester [30.06.17]

*Review produced as part of Hat Fair Young Critics

 

There is a set up that resembles a café. Think Allo Allo but, on a patch of grass. I’m five minutes late due to getting a little lost on the way from the last show I watched to this location. There’s a man looking as though the world is about to end (and so last moments may as well be spent being irritated about it) standing at the counter. Weaving in and out of the audience, we have an elderly man draped in a sodden Inspector Gadget style raincoat. He wears a glum look and is carrying an umbrella that is truly making it rain about him. As he passes me, I to experience the downpour that is following him with more cling on strength than a shadow. I’m not drenched but rather wet – note to self: don’t be late to a performance, you will end up covered in water.

This elderly man is Mr Lucky and it’s his birthday. There are no balloons in sight but hey, at least he’s in the café and out of the rain. But of course, he heads to a parasolled table and the rain starts again. Yep, it’s his lucky day that’s for sure. He proceeds to attempt to have tea with a woman who is unimpressed by his water attraction skills. She didn’t ask him to make it rain and so, she’s not about to fake amusement. SPOILER: But, like all charming, comedic shorts. Mr Lucky gets the gyal in the end (yay).

Avanti have successfully crafted a comedic short that in part harks back to the days of Laurel & Hardy, yes remains within the remit of the modern world via Great British Bake Off undertones. This is not just a piece of theatre about bad luck and hope saving the day. Avanti have offered us an insight into aging and the loneliness that this can impose on us. It’s also about finding and feeling love in the most unexpected settings and being okay with that happening. Mr Lucky bears a wonderful resemblance to Mr Ben but with the potential to be an extra in Carry On Cabby. He wants a change and on his birthday he’s going to do something about it. I’m sure many of us have written too many bucket lists that have often been triggered by fears around aging and not having achieved enough or used our time wisely. Mr Lucky encourages us to act in the now and throw caution to the wind because there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t have a go at reaching for what you truly desire.

The cast delivered a strong comedic performance with intention and nuances within their subtle physicality and each of them can lip synch like an absolute trooper.

… in to each life some rain must fall, but too much has fallen in mine…

Verdict: Happy birthday Mr Lucky and thank you for inviting me to your ‘getting your shit together/there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious’ party.

 

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Review: Amami!, Hat Fair

mc-fois-amami-1000x500

Amami! by Mc Fois

Hat Fair, Winchester [30.06.17]

*Review produced as part of Hat Fair Young Critics

There’s a man standing in a suit was fashioned out of the most garish pair of curtains you could possibly find (Maria eat your heart out girl, those play clothes ain’t got nothing on this). He decides he’s thirsty and tries to silently negotiate with the girl sitting next to me to have some of her water. She declines his pleas and offers of monopoly-esque money and eventually he takes the hint. Possibly having taken the hump (it’s not even Wednesday), he encourages an audience member to pretend to be a bull and he is the matador. What follows of course is a rather amusing display.

After a few more audience pursuits, the show really begins. Mc Fois delivers an incredible display of acuity and bodily articulation whilst bringing three hats to life. The scene has humour and pace that gives Mc Fois the ability to mesmerise the audience with ease… and no hats dropped. This spectacle is only heightened by a partial striptease to a cover of Sex Bomb that sounds oddly similar to the Monster Mash and, Mc Fois emerging from behind a chest dressed as a ballerina. A lucky audience member is then invited to dance with and propose to our blushing dancer and for a moment, it’s like we’re in a real time, extra hairy version of Disney’s Fantasia.

Mc Fois also offers us an exceptionally skillful performance with a diabolo. The sequence is delivered with incredible control and a unique artistry that weaves it into the larger narrative at play. We get a little more stripping later to the glory that is You Can Leave Your Hat On and a broken hearted goodbye to Unchained Melody. And no Gareth Gates in sight!

Verdict: Amami! is an amusing and clever piece of physical theatre that allows an audience to reflect on what desire really means. It also has the best soundtrack that I’ve heard in a piece of theatre for quite some time. Mc Fois is definitely worth seeing this weekend.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: How I Hacked My Way Into Space, Hat Fair

how-i-hacked-my-way-into-space-1000x500

How I Hacked My Way Into Space by Unlimited Theatre

Hat Fair, Winchester [30.06.17]

*Review produced as part of Hat Fair Young Critics

We are sitting outside the Space Shed. And for a moment, I feel like I’m about to experience a live, space-themed version of Nina and the Neurones (which would be a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon). There’s some serious build up, almost a good twelve minutes worth but, part of that of course is due to a late start. Visually not much is happening but, there’s lots of space jargon being chucked about by an unknown voice. Lift off is taking some time but, we’re getting there. Some smoke shoots out of the bottom of the shed and then the music kicks in, something similar to a high speed version of the Octonauts theme tune. And finally, a spaceman arrives in time for lift off. A cross between Fireman Sam and Flash Gordon, Jon Spooner welcomes us into the Space Shed.

We’re inside and well it’s like being in a low-tech, not time travelling, tiny tardis. Jon opens his story enigmatically, telling us about his school years, fears and dreams and, telling us just how much he wants to go to space. We’re about to here how Jon hacked his way into space. And what happens when someone’s about to bend your ear? They do the quintessentially British thing of putting on the kettle… followed by spritzing some water over a few plants. From here on in, Jon will be referred to as Big Jon and his miniature plastic sidekick, Little Jon.

What ensues is a lot of toing and froing between conversations between Big Jon and Little Jon (welcome to their cafe space shed) and Big Jon on the phone to numerous people ranging from Tim Peake to the European Space Agency to his wife. The phone calls are a plenty and whilst the idea behind these interactions is clear, they take too much of this piece of theatre outside of the theatrical world that it is residing in. This level of external activity causes said world to develop cracks and this weakens the overall experience. I wonder if it may have been more engaging for Jon to have performed the conversations – with him playing both participants. He did this at one point to illustrate a conversation that he and Tim had had. A little more of this to replace the phone’s starring role could have made this piece much more exciting and humorous. Given those conversations legs would have also given this piece more immediacy and allowed it to move with an exciting pace. The distancing in this piece made it feel quite long on top of the fact that it was already running 20 minutes over time.

Verdict: How I Hacked My Way Into Space is a show with great potential and is highly educational. However, this rocket didn’t quite make it off the ground unfortunately.

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,