Tag Archives: physical theatre

Review The Flop at Theatr Brycheiniog by Roger Barrington

 

 

(4 / 5)

 

The Flop produced by Cardiff’s Hijinx  theatre company in association with Brighton’s Spymonkey arrived in Brecon fresh from a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The six-strong cast is equally split between  able-bodied actors and those with learning difficulties. This i s a feature of earlier Hijinx productions and on the basis of the seamless integration on show in The Flop, works brilliantly.

At the heart of this short play, is the physical theatre of Jacques Lecoq. This great French mimic and teacher, believed that performers should work in such a way that brings out the best in their talents rather than be directed to work to a standard form.  The end result should be one where the actors are liberated from realism and to provide a truly imaginative and creative forcefulness to their performance.

Spymonkey are a leading physical theatre company with an international reputation, having collaborated with household names such as Cirque du Soleil with their comedy routines in  Zumanity – Another Side of Cirque du Soleil which they presented in Los Vegas. Their style of  madcap buffoonery is clearly apparent  in this production.

The show is a dream for the student of theatre. It is fun to spot the many theatrical styles on display. Besides physical theatre, you have The Theatre of the Absurd, (check out the surreal giant hedgehog in the final scene), The Theatre of Cruetly,  Commedia dell’arte,  farce, pantomime and musicals. All packed into seventy minutes of High Jinx. Hijinx’s ability to break constantly break down “the fourth wall” and the introduction of audience participation that results from it, works a treat.

The story revolves around the mad trials by impotence that existed in Pre-Revolutionary France. Unable to provide an heir, the Marquis de Langey, (Iain Gibbons) is subjected to the ridicule of public exposure when having to prove his ability to achieve sexual potency. brought about by his wife’s (Jess Mabel Jones) Machiavellian aunt, (Hannah McPake). The latter also doubling up as the Judge in the subsequent trial.

It would be wrong to select any individual members of the cast for praise, as they are uniformly excellent in their roles. Ben Pettitt-Wade’s direction keeps the show’s relentless comedy running at a breathtaking pace. At 70 minutes duration, it is just about right, for a lengthier production may prove to be a little wearing on the audience.

The Flop continues it run in England and Wales through to mid-October. Full details can be found at

http://www.hijinx.org.uk/the-flop/

 

Roger Barrington

Review: Archetypical, The Gate Arts Centre by Luke Seidel-Haas

Image result for cardiff fringe archetypical

★★★☆☆

Devised by students at University of Wales Trinity St David’s, Archetypical is a promenade performance which aims to tackle 21st century representations of women by exposing the historical archetypes by which women were defined – The Saint, The Martyr, The Witch and The Whore. Powerfully performed by Niamh Provan and Syamala Skinner, the piece is an engaging, humorous and thought provoking look at the female form. Archetypical a part of the “Fringe Labs” thread of Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival, meaning it is a work in progress and will be reviewed as such. Any criticism will aim to be constructive to allow the company an opportunity to improve their work.

Starting off in the main bar area of The Gate, Niamh and Syamala enter the space and abruptly stand on their heads. Legs open and in the air, the pair chastise each other  for not being able to close their legs and not be able to pose in a “ladylike” manner.  Before long we are whisked away by Syamala who invites us upstairs to view a house viewing. Escorted upstairs and into the main auditorium of The Gate, we are then introduced to the property for sale – Niamh. Syamala describes each part of Niamh’s body as if it were a house, using innuendo laden metaphors. The meaning behind this is clear – we are being shown the ways in which women’s bodies are reduced to their mere functions such as their ability to bear children or run a household.

As the piece progresses we see in turn a catwalk, an auction house and a witch hunt. Each is presented by the two performers with structured interactions between themselves and the audience. Often these segments are absurd and funny – a section in which the audience bids for Syamala’s body parts is ludicrous. Yet it suddenly hits home that the auction is highlighting the objectification of the female body and the complicity that people have in this. As a promenade piece of work it works relatively well – arguably the show is not site specific as it could be easily adapted to a variety of different spaces and does not necessarily integrate fully into the specifics of the space. The show may well have worked just as well in the single performance space of the main Auditorium. Having said that, both performers were adept at shepherding and interacting with the audience in the welcoming yet firm style needed to ensure the audience go where needed.

The movement of both performers was engaging and confidently executed, and generally fitted well with the text used. At times these could have been further integrated by combining movement and text in a more fluid manner. While this may have been a challenge based on the movements the performers were , the use of recorded audio could have added further layers to the piece. Each section of the piece was cleverly structured and the use of humour allowed  the audience to engage on a lighter level with the themes, perhaps before realising the meaning behind it. Archetypical cleverly weaves themes of female objectification, submission and the saint/whore dichotomy into a well performed and dynamic piece. An interesting concept, brimming with potential for development and powerfully executed by both performers.

Archetypical

Physical Theatre/Dance

The Gate Arts Centre

14th June 2018

Directed by Thania Acaron

Performed by  Niamh Provan and Syamala Skinner

Part of the Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival – more information and tickets here.

 

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, sunglasses and indoor

Luke Seidel-Haas