Pulse 2012: The first weekend. Day threeDate: 27 May 2012
I suppose that calling it a fringe, rather than fringe theatre, festival should have been enough of a pointer. Certainly the emphasis so far for me seems to have been on something which could be classified as entertainment but not really as theatre. Two out of the four shows which I saw on Sunday were pseudo lectures, with the audience actively involved (never the happiest of experiences). One was a solo dance drama and the other a circus act with intellectual pretensions.
Programme notes should, in my view, complement the performance onstage. You shouldn’t have to read them first in order to understand what you’re actually seeing. Collectif is one of the new breed of circuses, using all the traditional skills but presenting them in an apparently more anarchic format. Lost Post with its four performers like characters out of Beckett or Ionesco is one such show.
Rope work, acrobatics and the Cyr wheel are all used with panache by Francesca Hyde, [Lucie N’Duhirahe], [Stephanie N’Duhirahe] and Raphael Perrenoud as, occasionally burdened by mountains of luggage, they draw out a story of dislocation. It’s choreographed by Melissa Ellberger with designs – including a skewed vaulting-horse and a deliberate rag-bag of costumes by Anna Nicole Jones. Camille Litalien is the director.
The poems of A A Milne are the starting point for Jessie Percival dance exploration of childhood, adolescence – that awkward half-way stage in the maturing process – and being (fairly) properly grown-up for I Never Did…. Percival is committed to what she’s doing, from the initial chalking out of the floor space to the mixture of speech and step, but I’m not entirely sure that this percolated through to her audience.
We’re plump in the middle of a recession, of course, and Sean Gittens in Til Debt Do us Part illustrates how one man has been affected by the credit frenzy which preceded it. As any proper lecturer might, he uses projections as well as a lectern to show how financial institutions use the money we deposit with them, how those oh-so-useful plastic oblongs in our wallets proliferated with their encouragement, and what happens when you call upon the banks to help you with your own, desperately personal crisis.
It’s interesting enough, even on a hot sunny afternoon, but do we go to the theatre to learn about monetary policies? Or, for that matter, to re-live the testing culture of our early years? You know the sort of thing – cub badges, party games, team sports – then, later in life, quizzes, job interviews and career assessments. Ten Out of Ten is the title of the very interactive collaboration between Stuart Barter, Clare Dunn and [Terry O’Donovan]. It’s probably not a fail grade, more like a borderline pass.
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