Written by Nimrod Danishman, Borders explores the relationship of two young men who meet on Grindr, one is in Israel, and the other in Lebanon. Although deeply affected by political circumstances, their digital relationship strengthens against all odds. I spent an afternoon in a rehearsal ahead of the run at VAULT Festival 2023, after looking at the show from the sidelines for some years now.
Project Atom Boi follows the story of Yuanzi (Xiaonan Wang), a doomer who, pressured by a self-indulgent Filmmaker (Francesca Marcolina), starts re-exploring the memories of her childhood in China. Yuanzi grew up in Factory 404, a Cold War ghost town in the Gansu province that was built in the fifties with the sole purpose of hosting a nuclear weapon. As Yuanzi travels back in time, we also meet her childhood best friend Erdan and her grandfather (both played by Kelvin Chan).
Framed by the lens of the intrusive and boundary-breaking rise of artificial intelligence, TheShadow Whose Prey Becomes the Hunter by Back to Back Theatre serves as a wake-up call on how non-disabled people alienate people who have what are referred to in Australia as ‘intellectual disabilities’. (Australia and the UK have very different language for disability. In Australia ‘people with intellectual disabilities’ is considered polite. This is the language used the show.)
At the start of this piece that is definitely not about Hong Kong, we are asked not to take photographs. This is because the performers, who are absolutely not from Hong Kong, could face persecutions under China’s National Security Bill if they were caught making a show about Hong Kong. But this is all hypothetical, because this physical theatre show is not about Hong Kong.
Belgian company Ontroerend Goed are fringe regulars who reliably provide innovative, provocative work that makes a refreshing change from British theatre and performance paradigms. This show is no exception. Layers of metatheatricality, direct address and a spirit of playfulness are used to consider how a performance is made, the truth and lies in storytelling, and language as a vehicle for meaning. Tight dramaturgy and constant surprise result in a consistently compelling production.
In transphobic discourse, trans people are feared and consequently monstered. In these bigots’ brains, they are positioned outside the gender binary and labeled ‘not normal’. Canadian trans nonbinary theatremaker SE Grummett (they/them) first satirises what is considered normal within traditional gender roles, then creates a simple folktale where trans people as superheroes. They uses puppetry, audience interaction and live feed video projection along with monologues to both hilarious and profound effect.
Devised by Bodies For Rent theatre company, Nocturnal Fantasy takes place at a one-bedroom flat where four people gather (Pedro E. Ferreira, Naima Sjoholm, Aman, Timotheus Widmer), each for different reasons. A party kicks off and, as their moods are pumped up by drinking, they create imaginary spaces that start as playful sketches and eventually take on a surrealistic twist where memories and delusion merge.
In some of the recent popular discourse on the abuse that pollutes the theatre industry, hierarchies and the power they bestow on those at the top have – rightly – been criticised. A rehearsal room mostly populated by freelancers, but run by a single salaried person on staff with the production company or venue, creates a massive power imbalance that can be weaponised. Of course, many rehearsal processes are steered by good people who don’t exploit their position, but in my 20+ years of working in theatre, I’ve rarely seen these hierarchies dismantled, either partially or fully, when the production company operates with one in place. Power is clearly and consistently utilised, with the person in charge easily visible at all times.
Concertina wire. I’m not sure it’s possible to get LegalAliens’ constant repetition of the definition of concertina wire out of mind. This sweet voice calmly talking about the tiny blades used to cut through material and skin over and over again is haunting. Continue reading →
Director Jack McNamara promised very different performances for each part of Thibault Delferiere’s Spirit trilogy. Attending Lion, we begin to see what he means. Audience filter in to find a desolate Delferiere sitting in a cage. Food is once again dangling from the ceiling, but whereas in the first it was an innocent apple, here a large chunk of meat, tantalises Delferiere from above.