Inside Pussy Riot, Saatchi Gallery

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by guest critic Maeve Campbell

The performance begins on entering the Saatchi Gallery, and we are asked to fill out questionnaires on preferences of social action. These are then used to tailor our experiences of the performance. We are led into a clinical waiting room, briefed and provided with balaclavas and protest signs. From there we are taken on a journey through Pussy Riot’s experience of the Russian judicial system and labour camps they were subjected to after they stormed Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow in 2012.

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Instructions for Border Crossing, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Human instinct to categorise and label everything and everyone extends to drawing boundaries and borders around bits of land, dividing the world up into distinct nations with names and cultural features. They’re arbitrary really, and Daniel Bye channels obscure, near-mythical performance artist Edward Shorter to challenge them.

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Palmyra, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Two men glide around the floor on small wheeled platforms. Like children, belly down on skateboards, they relish the speed and inability to control their paths. There’s a sense of freedom and joy in their movements, but collisions soon turn happiness into hostility. The fights increase in aggression, and the audience is made complicit. No one is innocent here.

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My Country; a work in progress, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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After 52% of 72% of the British voting population voted to leave the EU, Rufus Norris’s concern that London theatre was out of touch with the majority of British people drove him to launch a nationwide project of listening. He sent a team of ‘gatherers’ to all corners of these sceptered isles, and they collected 70 interviews from people up and down the country. The transcriptions combined with text by Carol Ann Duffy gave birth to My Country; a work in progress.

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The Enchanted, Bunker Theatre

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York and Arden are two men on America’s death row waiting to die. An investigator, known to the prisoners as The Lady, works night and day to save their lives. The similarly unnamed chaplain does the same to save their souls. As the two piece together the pasts of the men about to meet their deaths, a physical theatre ensemble and extracts from Rene Denfeld’s poetic novel The Enchanted creates a dreamlike, romanticised view of poverty-stricken rural America and the killers it breeds.

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Disconnect, Ugly Duck

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Imagine a production of Waiting for Godot with more characters, set in space, where the audience chooses the outcome of the story. What you are picturing is probably gloriously weird and kitschy. But now add clumsy dialogue, some poor performances and a loosely applied Brexit analogy, performed on a set that looks like it’s built of cardboard and/or they ran out of paint. If your mind’s eye makes a different picture now, it be more accurate.

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