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Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

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London International Mime Festival 2013

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Mime time: I’ve decided three shows is the limit but luckily they were better than last year.

Not Until We Are Lost by Ockham’s Razor – This was described as an immersive promenade piece but this was code for being bossed from one side of the theatre to the other at various points – pretty much the opposite of immersive. The reason for the movement was that Ockham’s Razor are an aerial theatre group and the show was split between two bits of apparatus: a movable scaffolding set and a shit perspex chimney. Let’s ignore the latter. The scaffolding, however, was a big improvement on the last time I saw them. There was a lovely playfulness, a childlike exploration, to their interaction with the bars and each other which compensated for a performance that was technically very tame. Still, there were many points where I wished they’d been a bit bolder and more fluid in their transitions. As is so often the case with performance art, the score (by Graham Fitkin) was the best thing about it.

The Cardinals by Stan’s Cafe – Three cardinals and a female muslim stage manager are putting on a mime adaptation of the Bible. Sort of like the Reduced Shakespeare Company for God but without words. Or 90% of the jokes. Or, indeed, much reduction: this had been trundling along for an hour with no progress when an intermission was called. A foolish move since we left to get something to eat. Presumably some use would have been made of the frame at the conclusion of the piece but we weren’t sitting through another hour of interminable flannel to get to it. (I’d clocked this was likely to be rotten from the programme but my wife insisted on seeing it because Stan’s Cafe once did something clever with rice. They should stick to rice.)

Plan B by Compagnie 111/Aurélien Bory – Their previous show, ‘Sans Object’, was the star of the 2011 festival so I had high hopes for this. I wasn’t disappointed. With a wit and a fluency absent in the other shows, Compagnie are able to mine a simple but inspired concept (here translating the plane of the stage from the vertical to the horizontal and points in-between) to stunning effect. The piece is ten years old but still completely fresh. The French basically put the British to shame when it comes to circus and physical theatre.

Written by Martin

20 January 2013 at 10:07

Workers Playtime

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Capitalism is wrong. This goes without saying yet people still feel the need to say it. This is fine if you are going to be sharp but if you are going to be blunt, why bother?

I’d heard good things about Ockham’s Razor but unfortunately The Mill was not very impressive. It is part of the 2010 London International Mime Festival but I prefer to think of it as physical theatre and the performers’ interaction with the set is the heart of the piece. Discussing this in an interview with the Guardian, one of them says that “we bashed around with various Heath Robinson-style systems, and they were all rubbish”. They have ended up with something quite simple but they fail to really exploit its full potential. The company works outward from their equipment and so here we move from the great millwheel at the centre of the stage to the concept of a mill itself to an examination of labour. They work, they change shift, they rest and enter a child-like state of grace, they return to the crushing conformity of work, they rebel, they stand around wanting to know what comes next. We slip out into the night, unmoved, to get a good night’s sleep before the wheel starts again.

I did like Derek Nisbet’s score though.

Written by Martin

20 January 2010 at 12:51

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