Posts Tagged ‘minkette’

Review – Slung Low’s “Last Seen,” Green path (Joy) – Almeida Theatre’s Summer Festival

July 8, 2009

Tonight I went to see Slung Low’s latest project, Last Seen, a promenade performance happening under the aegis of the Almeida Theatre’s Summer Festival. Although I was pretty excited about seeing this, I’m sorry to say it let me down. Perhaps it was just the story line that I took, Green (“Joy”) – the other two had two characters and I only had Joy (Lolita Chakrabarti) to entertain me.

The format was thus: we (the audience) gathered in the Almeida (note that where you sit determines which story you follow, so I recommend you pick either upstairs for White (Reason Season) or the rear of the stalls for Blue (The Great Bear)), where we were instructed to put on headphones. A brief check is done to verify that the equipment was working (it wasn’t initially for anyone – opening night problems, I’m sure). Then each group of people is led out, one group at a time, by the character(s) whose stories they will be following for the rest of the evening. Each group is also accompanied by one or two guides (we had two, I think, though only one introduced himself to us), who make sure the groups of headphone-wearing and thus mostly deaf people actually get across the streets safely and don’t block cars from getting down alleys.

Our narrator was a woman named Joy. As we trooped down Almeida Street, she began to tell us of her daughter Angel and a bit about her family. Although she spoke in a normal voice, we all listened to her through our headphones, which continually played some music (not helpful) and occasionally other people’s voices. Joy met someone who gave her a gold painted medicine bottle, and shortly thereafter was menaced by a man in a face mask and hoodie on a bike.

We wandered along until we came to the Astey’s Row Rock Gardens, where she talked about being sexually harassed at a job. We paused for a while at the entrance to the park, where a strange sculpture of gold art model dolls had been put near a playground. I think I also saw a gold painted chewed apple in the park – they kept showing up throughout the performance, and though I thought perhaps they had some reference to Adam and Eve or perhaps even Eris, they seemed only later to refer to some apples her daughter had eaten.

The most exciting moment of the evening came when Joy told us of meeting Angel’s father (done after we’d passed through the park behind St. Mary’s Church, possibly on St. Mary’s Path), where a man was leaning against a spray-painted shadow on a wall. He fit it perfectly. He then walked away from the shadow and went to another wall, where he continued playing with his cellphone. Joy stood in the shadow and changed into a red dress; the gorgeous, high-cheeked man was joined by a woman who made out with him enthusiastically. We all walked back to the church and were eventually passed by the man and the woman, but were they a part of the scene or just some random, hormonal strangers? None of us knew.

We did actually go in the church, and then back to the Almeida, all within about an hour, but there’s little really to say about the walk. It didn’t make Islington come alive, like it might have; the other two stories didn’t come together at all, like Moonwalking in Chinatown (but we were told we could stay and watch another thread for a mere 5 quid, or come back and see it for 40% off at another date during the run); it didn’t take advantage of the headphones to provide us with secret information on people’s thoughts like Minkette’s brilliant Train of Thought. It didn’t seem to have a real arc to it; in fact, it was rather dull. It didn’t take advantage of being in Islington at all and didn’t really benefit from being a promenade in any way as near as I can tell.

In short, this was a huge disappointment for me. I am really hoping the other stories were more interesting. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to check as I’m gone for the rest of the run (it’s last day is Sunday July 12th), but I have to say I’d be really hard pressed to bother coming back after tonight even if I was free.

(This review was based on the 7 PM performance that took place Wednesday July 8th. Last Seen continues through Sunday July 12th, 2009, with performances at 7 and 9 except for Sunday the 12th, when it is at 4 and 6 PM.)

Train of Thought – King’s Cross (A Minkette Production)

December 18, 2007

Train of Thought Without doubt, one of the most clever shows I will have seen this year is going to be “Train of Thought,” a terribly fun event that took place for just barely a week. The concept, as it was explained to me, was that you would ride the tube and be able to hear the thoughts of the other riders. This massively clicks with several of my interests, most specifically, site specific performance and, um, not telepathy but the concept of a dreamtime where you experience several different layers of reality (many pasts, for example) while being aware of being in the now. (I also am interested in the Tube in general, not to a freakish level of geekishness, but enough.)

Anyway … the play was more fun than I expected, despite having many of the challenges I associate with site-specific works. (If you go to a lot of these, you realize that the vagaries of the space, especially if it is a public space, is something you just have to deal with. You’re not going to sit down in your chair and have an usher and get drinks during the interval – it’s just not how it works.) We actually met a “conductor” before the show (and were caught up with the rest of the group), but then had to wait 20 minutes for a circle line to show up.

From then on, it was pretty smooth sailing. The gig was that we had headphones on listening to a radio station, and a little FM transmitter was broadcasting to us on “The Oracle Line” (marked on a map we were given out before we boarded), which said what the names of the different stops were as we pulled up to them – and admonished us to Mind the Gap as we exited the train. It also let us in on the thoughts of our other passengers, in a series of vignettes – from the usual mindless “where’s my book” to “God, look at these pictures of us when we went to Barbados …” to “I hate my job” – but as you heard the “thoughts” played you cast your eyes about the train trying to figure out who was “thinking” them. I had total synchronicity with the “where’s my book” guy – it was really just like reading his mind! I found this ridiculously pleasant.

While I did have problems with reception at times, overall this was a great play and I can’t wait to see what Minkette will do next time!

(This review is of a performance done Friday, December 14th.)