Sunday, 5 July 2009

Seen/Played

Here's a random volume of some of the stuff I've seen and played over the last 6 months. Only some, the stuff I most immediately remembered. I'll catch up on others as and when.

England
Tim Crouch's elegant masterwork. I wrote about this for Kultureflash here. KF doesn't really publish criticisms as much as recommendations - if you don't like it, you don't write it up, but I do occasionally err on the side of generosity. Not for this one. Crouchy's a genius.

Monsters
Another KF write-up. This one straight up too although I got to bundle in my criticism. A pleasure to meet super-smart Chris Haydon afterwards and only an hour into conversation realised he is also Chris Wilkinson.

Messenger
Yes, I'm biased, given that it was made by Gemma Brockis with her brother Darrell, and written for him to perform in a bricked cell at Shunt. But still. It grew into an exquisitely disturbing miniature, a reworking of the bit of the Medea myth where she chops up her brother to delay pursuing fleets. It felt like a conjuring, and D's performance as 'the body of the message' was mesmerising.

As You Like It
This at the Globe for my mum's birthday, as my folks had never been. I love the Globe. I relish standing in the Pit and feeling the energy of the audience complete the circuitboard of the performance. I took part in a workshop by John Wright there years ago, about how the architecture of the Globe space is a scaffolding for playing a soliloquoy: if you simply play the audience, communicate the speech to every part of the space, keeping it live, then that point of focus will carry you through the verse. Shakespeare *was* site-responsive. This was a very good production of a play I (shamefully) didn't know at all. Exemplary clowning from Dominic Rowan's Touchstone and Tim McMullan's Jacques, lightly tripping the melancholtastic, and Naomi Frederick and Jack Laskey's lovers were vibrant. I haven't always had much time for director Thea Sharrock - discretion tips me quiet - but she did good work here.

Where We Live And What We Live For
This was a Burst treat. I picked it at random with time to kill. Simon Bowes performs with his father, aka the Kings Of England. Beautifully restrained, poetic and moving presentation of a life. It reminded me of the very best of a smith (which is very good indeed). I'm aiming to catch its Forest performance on 28th August, which happens to be Mr Bowes' 75th birthday.

Mari Me Archie
I've been a fan of Melanie Wilson since I first saw her stand up - literally, she stood up extraordinarily in butoh time in an otherwise mixed show at the Lion in 2000. I've worked with her a lot since, and her voice floats around the space as the Small Town Crier in A Small Town Anywhere. This solo piece also in Burst was her first scratching with binaural sound. It's a little audio-guided meander through the BAC building and an inner space, where you're intermittently connected with another presence. It's quite brilliant AND still hints at better to come.

Rotating In A Room Of Images
Again in Burst, artists Lundahl and Seitl take an audience one at a time into a room that does exactly as per title. You wear an earphone, the room fades to black, and as the light rises, it has rotated. And again. And someone appears. And disappears. And leads you onward, with the voice of a spooky girl in your ear. Rigorous and sumptuous, a real dreamscape.

Tunnel 228
Hmmm. Even before I saw this, I'd weighed in with comments on Matt Trueman's blog for the Guardian. There was some exceptional art - in particular Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's Killing Machine cut itself into my imagination extremely. But the world the curation evoked just blew the super out of ficial - oh, the humanity! and here's the fat controller. The interaction design is sometimes problematic; as Alex Fleetwood tweeted, a queue for a one-on-one? Afterwards, I'm bewildered by the hype and consequent lack of properly critical dialogue around Punchdrunk. They are brilliant in some ways, and then not, and then in between, like any artist. Can't we be challenging their work as well as celebrating? Also. Shunt's sustained curation of interesting art in the underground railway arches of the Lounge has received a fraction of the attention of the folly (in the rich man's sense) of 228 and deserves far more for its consistent development of artists and their exposure to huge numbers of constantly diverse audiences way beyond the normal theatre/art crowd. Again, sure, I'm biased, but you can wipe that bias away and it's still true.

Parse The Parcel
Simon Katan is a brilliant game-designer. His background in music slants him quite distinctively. This gem of a mechanic had two teams sitting opposite each other, some of us holding parcels of different shapes. Facing each team is a sequence of shapes that we must assemble, passing parcels to each other while the music plays, each team trying to make their sequence first.

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