I was lucky enough to be invited to the fringe by Contact Theatre as part of their young producers programme.
I’ve not been to the fringe for about 5 years where I was fully immersed in the crazy, hectic rush of it and this year was no different. However, five years on I’m here to scope out new and exciting work to programme for one of Manchester’s most exciting live theatre venues as part of the RE:CON team. Please note that although I am here with Contact Theatre, these reviews are my own opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of Contact! So after the disclaimer here are my highlights of the fringe:
Botuh Medea @ Paradise at The Vault
I walked through into the vault of St Augustine’s Church; it’s dark, intimate and atmospheric yet nothing’s even happened yet. Botuh Medea follows the story of a hysterical witch women, slowly seeping into the depths of revenge and anger and with fusion of Botuh* dance and classical greek tragedy, there is an electric, visceral and highly energetic clash of cultures, all carefully held together by the amazing performer Yokko. Yokko’s technique is tight, yet in parts manages to lose control with an energy that fills the entire room. It was truly a wonderful experience to see such a strong one-woman show, my only regret was that I hadn’t picked a seat right at the front.
*For those like me who weren’t sure what Botuh is, it’s “is a form of Japanese dance theatre that encompasses a diverse range of activities, techniques and motivations for dance, performance, or movement… Common features of the art form include playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, extreme or absurd environments, and it is traditionally performed in white body makeup with slow hyper-controlled motion.“ Thanks wiki.
Fiction @ Pleasance
Imagine a horror story where you are unable to get away from it. Fuel Theatre makes you delve into the depths of your own imagination to create and complete a story that is fed to you through 3D sound. After a few images of a hotel to set the scene, we plunge into darkness. The audience is now a distant memory and I am now on my own. Close your eyes and it is the same darkness you’re trying to escape. You listen through the headphones and it is loud and encompassing but taking the headphones off to then be in the deathly silence and darkness is even worse. A very clever piece of sound design written by Glen Neath leaves you terrified of the images you create in your own mind. As the noise of the voices gets louder the blackness get deeper; it is fascinating that you can feel so claustrophobic in the infinite. A definite must “see”.
I am not myself these days @ Pleasance
Tom Stuart’s story telling is so natural and so clever that you can taste the hangover in your mouth as he countlessly recalls nights of boozing in New York. The sad and vibrant tale, originally written by Josh Kilmer-Purcell, of lust, loss and drag is a very smart piece of writing that captures the desperate want for love in a easily digestible way. Sweaty, energetic, stretching until he is emotionally battered and bruised. A brilliant solo theatre piece.
YAMA @ ZOO Southside
Scottish Dance Theatre present a beautiful, kaleidoscope of movement with its dancers moving organically into each other. Gyrating limbs intertwine to create a ritualistic atmosphere, inspired by indigenous groups in rural Japan. Costume design is brilliant with huge, long blonde wigs flailing around like an extra limb. An interesting and complex piece of choreography.
Pact with Pointlessness @ Dance Base
Wendy Houstoun manages to capture nothingness with such eloquence. Her bumbling, fumbling dialogue is charming, sharp and engaging and for a show that has no point, it was extremely entertaining with real moments of comedic genius, who knew a women dancing inside a box would be so funny…? It is very rare to find someone with such humour that doesn’t turn into slapstick physical theatre and Houstoun manages to teeter on the edge and pull it back with the right amount of class.
Trans Scripts @ Pleasance
A group of trans women recount their stories of their early childhood and beyond, intertwining and often clashing with each other, giving a very honest and emotional insight to what it is to be trans. The script, based on accounts of real transgendered people, allows each story to breath and develop creating peaks and troughs of comedy and tragedy. A real highlight of the fringe all the way from The States.
Plan B for Utopia @ Dance Base
‘You have a plan, and then you don’t. You have a dream, and then you wake up. You fall in love, and your heart gets broken. The question is: do you pick up the pieces and try again?’
A beautiful series of dances that demonstrate the flaw of projected utopia or dreams is presented by two very brilliant and very talented dancers Solene Weinachter and John Kendall. A hopeless love affair that slowly suffocates both involved. A man who acquires riches and a dream wife to share it with from a magic tree… It is a subject that has been interpreted many many times, but this choreography is beautiful and humble and portraying such sadness, inter-dispersed with some wonderful comedic moments. Solene’s movement is wild and full of energy – her animalistic and childlike story telling is a joy to watch. An incredible feat from the emerging choreographer Joan Clevillé.