Friday, 19 September 2014

Five Performances for a Post-Referendum Scotland

Audience (Ontroerend Goed)
Many critics got upset because the company abused a plant in the crowd, missing the subsequent deconstruction of 'the manufacture of consent' and dismissing the Belgians as shock-tactic nihilists. The last half hour, however, demonstrates how easy mass manipulation can be, and the problems that 'doing the right thing' can bring to anyone who mistakes observation as passivity.

Bloody Mess (Forced Entertainment)
The show that will keep Forced Entertainment on the syllabus of University Theatre Studies until the subject is finally rolled up into the Faculty of Neo-Darwinian Analysis, Bloody Mess  is a glorious fusion of many themes and competing ideas. One especially powerful strand is the gradual revelation that apparent communication is, in fact, just the juxtaposition of individuals following their own journey and accidently bumping into each other. Plenty is said, but no dialogue ever emerges. 

Fall (Zinnie Harris)
Apparently, in the navy, when the tempest rages and men are swept
overboard or eaten by a giant squid, a wily old jack tar will mumble: 'never mind, worse things happen in a Zinnie Harris play.' Miserable dystopias are cheap in theatre, ever since Beckett got chuckles from Godot: it is Harris' attention to detail and broad poetic scope that lift her apocalypses above the mundane. Dominic Hill's direction often found the beauty in the brutality, and Fall's finale renders the end of the world... delicate.

Jesus, Queen of Heaven (Jo Clifford)
Remember how I bang on about the hermeneutical spiral? This is a good reminder of how the event (in this case, the claims for the incarnation of the Judeo-Christian God) is given meaning by the process of rereading and recontextualisation. Note: does not contain fundamentalism.

VSPRS (Les Ballets C de la B)
This rarely needs a reason to be included, but... like Bloody Mess, it has strands to spare and the way that the awkward, the physically unique and the other are capable of moving towards an ecstatic moment of unity probably make it the one of the most vivid and visceral expression of the holiness of all human life (at least in the tradition of European contemporary dance). Plus it had Iona Kewney in it, and a gypsy band playing psychedelic versions of Monteverdi.

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