As part of the Brighton Festival finale, thousands gather for the magnificent Waterlitz, presented by eccentric French company Générik Vapeur, and are treated to a mix of breathtaking aerial ballet, anarchic street theatre and explosive pyrotechnics.
The 20 metre high structure of a man, made from eight huge shipping containers stands tall on the Brighton seafront and can easily be seen all the way from neighbouring Rottingdean to Portslade. As the crowds gather all around, from the beach right to the top of Marine parade, the giants head rolls around, with an eerie groan announcing his presence as the crowd buzzes with anticipation and a feeling of excitement of what’s to come.
As dusk falls, the rigid cold structure is brought to life immediately as he is lit by projecting bright lights and a crash of blaring music and the show begins. The show takes us through a journey of our universe through time and space - from the dinosaurs, through to napoleon, showing dictators through time, and major events such as the Titanic. As well as factual images they also add oddities such as ‘Tea Time’, where a huge clock is projected onto the structure and tea is handed to the crowds to a mantra of trippy music repeating the different types of tea.
Each scene is portrayed in an obscure, bizarre way, making you question the meaning while, at the same time, appreciating the spectacle of every scene. The obscurities include a huge pterodactyl scattering glitter into the bemused audience while circling the structure, a polar bear that is hoisted onto a trapeze with a man playing the symbols, cyclists who protrude out of the huge arms fifteen metres in the air and Robin Hood who fires colourful fireworks from his bow while standing on the head of the giant.
Each act is accompanied by the live band at the foot of the giant, playing repetitive explosive music with deep heavy bass lines. The show has a small amount of dialogue, but with bad acoustics and some parts spoken with a very strong French accent, a lot of this is lost on the crowd - who have confused expressions all around. The lost words are not really important as, even without the dialogue, the show is enjoyable and not having to concentrate on the spoken word allows the mind to wander and to piece together what is being portrayed.
Overall Waterlitz is a unique, bizarre and spectacular show, and we can only hope that it returns to Brighton for next year’s festival with many more of the kind of obscurities that our eccentric city loves so much.