Leftovers by Hounded Theatre and Ugly Collective at Theatre N16

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This was a strange piece at Theatre N16. Going into it we were vaguely aware that it had something to do with immigration. However had we not been told that, I don’t think we would have got the message. We were aware though, but we still did not really get it.

Created by Hounded Theatre in collaboration with Ugly Collective this work had too many contrasting styles. Physical theatre, music and song, and naturalistic and non-naturalistic theatre combined to make a mouthful of a theatre piece. Elizabeth meets a boy in a park and a relationship begins and then he sets off for war to defend the country. The narrative is stretched out to incorporate other generations and then a mother finally washes up on the shores of France in a state of confusion.

It was very hard to follow what was happening. Storytelling is the main purpose of all those creating theatre, but the different styles made it hard to understand the basic plot line. However, there were some lovely moments, particularly some of the choreographed physical moments, although one member of the group was not quite in sync with the others which detracted slightly from the overall effect. The musical moments were beautiful and a lovely respite from our confusion with the story. There was also an interesting use of the N16 windows.

For us the company needed better direction during the production phase. It was very ambitious with lots of interesting ideas and styles attempted but it did not gel at all. They may have had someone looking in at the work from the outside but often it is better to have two or three…

We look forward to seeing how this company develops and how they improve and fine tune their work.

Highlight of the piece – the hair washing with a sponge and metal bucket – an extremely powerful and effective moment within the play. Whilst the body rhythm sex scene was very amusing.

WIGS 2/5

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Our Brighton Tips

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So, the Ginger Wig & Strolling Man are heading to Brighton, to experience their first taste of this festival by the sea. As England’s biggest theatre and performing arts festival and fringe festival, it is certainly not something we could miss. However, like any arts festival, trying to pick out what to see tends to be a bit of nightmare with programmes as thick as yellow pages and acts as diverse as ‘Future of Food: Burgers… Or Bugs?’, ‘The Bald Prima Donna’ and ‘Burt Lancaster Pierced my Hymen (When I Was 11)’. Therefore we have done some of the hard work for you and picked out the things we most recommend and would most like to see at this year’s Brighton Festival and Fringe.

Brighton Festival

Akram Khan’s ‘Until The Lions’

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“Beautifully combining the classical Indian dance form kathak with contemporary dance, Until the Lions tells the tale of Amba, a princess abducted on her wedding day and stripped of her honour, who invokes the gods to seek revenge.”

The Encounter

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“In this solo performance, Simon McBurney traces McIntyre’s journey into the depths of the Amazon rainforest using binaural technology to build an intimate and shifting world of sound.”

Read our ‘The Encounter’ review here

Operation Black Antler

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“Enter the murky world of undercover surveillance and question the morality of state-sanctioned spying.”

The Last Resort

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“Amidst a barren landscape, a neon light stands bleak and stark. Welcome to The Last Resort. For those brave enough to return to this long deserted resort, beauty, science fiction and history merge to create a unique outdoor experience.”

Minefield

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“New work about the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the 1982 conflict.”

Masquerade

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“Enter the Masquerade Ball, a world of anonymity and duplicity that spins a web of lies and truth around its guests. Carry out tasks, hide your secrets, do whatever it takes to win. You will need to form bonds, break relationships and be ruthless in your pursuit of glory but remember… trust no one.”

Brighton Fringe

The Bookbinder

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“A story of mystery, magic and mayhem; weaving shadowplay, paper art, puppetry, and music into an original dark fairytale.”

Torn Apart (Dissolution)

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“Torn Apart (Dissolution) is about talking to your lover, drinking beer, ultimate rejection, the white picket fence fantasy, sexuality, the rules of being on a visa, The Berlin Wall, but mostly it’s about love.”

Switchboard

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“A phone rings. It keeps ringing. You answer the call. It’s for you. What happens next is in your hands.”

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The Thermos Museum

“Twelve suitcases unfold to reveal numerous astonishing displays. However, the public are not free to reign; visitors are escorted around the museum by a mysterious and disenchanted tour guide.”

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“Life is more than the days you have left. Jeff and Jasmine are diagnosed with a life threatening disease, but through each other they learn why life is worth being threatened.”

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Into The Water

“This foot-stomping, hand-tapping show transports audiences from a magical wasteland to a dreamlike world, where anything’s possible and friendship’s everything. Folk has never been so fun!”

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A Good Jew

“1938. Sol and Hilda play in the Frankfurt Sinfonietta. They’re in love. So what?
Well, Hilda’s father is a Nazi Official, and Sol is, of course, a Jew.”

How Eva Von Schnippisch Single-Handedly Won WW2

“Armed only with a ukulele and the power of song, Eva tells a comedic story of love, frankfurters, the other Eva . . . and de-bunks the bunker story once and for all.”

A Talent for Lying

“Lucy sits beside Aidan in a busy café. He says she knows him, but she doesn’t. Though determined not to be written into one of his stories, Lucy is persuaded to imagine a past she can’t remember.”

Fire Burn: The Tragedy of Macbeth

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“Three sisters meet to enact Macbeth’s fate. Their twisted prophecies transform him from a war hero into a paranoid tyrant in this brutal Shakespearean Tragedy. A man with bloody hands, his murdered friend’s ghost, a queen who sleepwalks – the witches bring them to life to the beat of Hecate’s drums.”

A Little Prince

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“A contemporary new musical adaptation of Saint-Exupéry’s ‘The Little Prince’ that will dazzle the youngest audiences, while seducing and capturing the adult ones.”

Anyway the Fringe and Festival have already started so get planning, get booking and get yourself down to Brighton!

 

Blind Man’s Song by Theatre Re at The Pleasance Islington

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Theatre Re present Blind Man’s Song. Photo Credit: Richard Davenport.

Mime, physical theatre and live music was our theatre experience on Sunday afternoon as we plodded down to the Pleasance in Islington to see Theatre Re’s ‘Blind Man’s Song’.

A blind man tries to remember a past love, as two masked characters representing memories move beautifully around the stage revealing the various stages of their relationship. Due to the colour of their costumes, we will refer to these two as Mr Burgundy and Lady Evergreen. We worked out that the blind man was possibly a composer suffering from tinnitus, who, in trying to recall this relationship, was composing songs to bring back the memories.

There were lovely moments of movement and mime in this piece, gracefully tracing the arc of the romance from the first meeting, through first night and beyond. The mime of Guillaume Pigé and Selma Roth was captivating. The simple set of a single moveable bed and piano was perfect in the large space of the Pleasance’s main stage. The atmosphere created by the lighting, smoke effects and costumes was very arresting and we certainly couldn’t take our eyes off it.

At times, however, this piece was let down by the music. Written and performed by Alex Shaw, playing both the violin and the piano whilst using a loop peddle, he did at times create some lovely sounds, but too often, as can be the case when using a loop peddle, the music became repetitive, with only some basic arpeggiations. There were also two sounds used to represent the blind man’s tinnitus. Firstly the repeated sound of him banging his cane around the bed and secondly a loud ringing. We understood their use, however, the volume and duration of these moments was actually quite unpleasant.

The piece did have a very beautiful ending with the blind man finally remembering the face of Lady Evergreen. At this moment the music definitely matched the quality of the other elements creating a fitting finish for this forgotten love. The blind man finally found peace.

Highlight of the piece: Mr Burgundy’s expertly mimed attempts at opening a door.

WIGS 3/5

Institute by Gecko Theatre at Pleasance Courtyard

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Where, oh where, to begin with this fascinating piece of theatre. Gecko theatre have created something truly memorable without me really being able to tell you what it was.

Four men ran, jumped, danced and flung themselves across a stage surrounded by giant filing cabinets – filing cabinets that contained much more than just paperwork.

One man seemed to be struggling with creative block, another with getting over an ex-girlfriend, another with the loss of his father and a final one with who knows what. Two were English, one was German and the fourth was French, although he used a touch of Italian. They all moved around the stage with a mad precision and they were all completely bonkers!

The show was extremely physical, but also had some lovely moments of humour, the two men dealing with the corporate machine controlling their lives had some great moments, and there was incredible use of the entire space.

Nod to the lighting as well, as we are yet to mention it at this year’s festival, but it really was great here, creating different spaces and different moods. The sound too worked really well, with all the men being mic’d, so we heard all the words clearly as well as their panting and breathing. This was coupled with a soundtrack that often contained a panting/grunting soundtrack to accompany some of the physical dance moment parts.

Don’t really know what else to say about this one. It was absolutely loco! Go see it and see if you can make any sense of it. You won’t regret it.

Highlight of the show – the architect trying to get to his drawing board to draw something, anything, only to be carried back, or spaz out, or be distracted by the others. Fantastic movement.

4/5 WIGS