Tag Archives: Vault Festival

Odyssey @VaultFesitval

Whether you know Homer’s poem The Odyssey or not (and I don’t), it seems implausible that in the space of seventy minutes the story of the Odyssey could be acted out by one person with any effect.  But it was.

Despite what I would describe as the most annoying sound effects, I think something akin to “beats”, the use of sounds (a different sound for each character, mainly the gods) I must begrudgingly admit were used with great effect. So despite my annoyance, the truth is that the sounds were pivotal in making the play work. Note, however, that others were amused by the sounds and enjoyed the use of the varying swooshing and other variety of sounds used to introduce each character. One can only ask if this was the way of old when oral story telling was the norm.

But enough about sound effects. The use of phrases such as “brilliant”, “magnificent”, and “genius” are so readily used in describing artistic works, sometimes being a disservice rather than a compliment. Odyssey is co-devised and co-written by Theatre Ad Infinitum’s artistic co-directors Nir Paldi and George Mann with  Paldi directing and Mann performing.  Mann as narrator assists his audience through his actions of the many different roles that he plays. With no props (unless you consider his neutral costume a prop) Mann is able to take a complex plot line and strip it back to its bare bones and make it an entertaining and enjoyable performance. Not knowing anything about The Odyssey, I left feeling I knew the essentials of this piece of Homer’s work. And, I certainly now have a desire to one day read The Odyssey. However, as I’m not convinced that there was much left out, perhaps reading this piece of work is not entirely necessary.

The play requires a great deal of energy, animation, physical stamina and humour to be a success and Mann is successful in this regard. His performance is dynamic and has both breadth and depth. The characters are brought to life, and visualising them all being on stage is not difficult to do. At no time does the stage seem empty as Mann is able to place the presence of each character on stage thereby making them colourful, interesting and engaging. They have staying power as he moves from character to character. Mann’s ability to do this can only be marvelled at.

Mann’s highly energetic performance in Odyssey is sincere, humble and worthy of praise.  So, I suppose, when people use words like: “brilliant”, “magnificent” and “genius” or some other like phrase they do so because our language has no other words to describe brilliance. Although I’m happy to use less descriptive language, Odyssey is an outstanding play that has several wonderful moments that dazzle, at least it dazzled me and I’m willing to start my journey to find words that describe artistic brilliance. In the meantime, yes, it is a “must see”.

Odyssey runs until 1 March at the Vault Festival.

 

Late start for #LieCollector @VaultFestival

Yve Blake, the performer and co-composer of Lie Collector, finally takes to the stage 15 minutes after start time. Seated in what can only be described as the most obstructed view in the theatre, I was determined that she would have to overcome mountains to get me to engage with the show.

Blake and her trusty Apple Computer were off and the audience was immediately engaged. Visual effects were a central theme to the show and I believe they were used with good effect. I say believe because no matter how much I stretched I really could not see. Nevertheless, I could hear and rather than being angry for not seeing and hating the entire performance, I was angry because I couldn’t see and was loving the performance.  So much for mountains to overcome – and we were only 10 minutes in.

Blake takes ordinary people’s stories about lies they’ve told and retells them through narration, song and a bit of dance. Her singing voice is good, although at times I had difficulty understanding exactly what she was singing – but that wasn’t anymore problematic than when I simply didn’t understand the use of regional phrases. Nevertheless, just in case you were in doubt, she has that special look that tells you it’s a funny moment or that something more profound is to be taken from the moment. And, the dance you ask? Simply put, it was entertaining.

Yve Blake in Lie Collector at VAULT Festival 2015. Credit Katie Lambert. (8)
Credit: Katie Lambert

Blake tells us it was her second time performing Lie Collector. This, quite frankly, I found hard to believe. She is not only a natural comic; she is a good storyteller. She was animated and energetic for her entire time on stage – even through the numerous costume changes. If anything, the many costume changes, some of which were not as seamless as Blake may have liked, could have been reduced and replaced, preferably, with a few more dance and song sequences.

As for the lies Blake collected from the internet and face-to-face: I’m not sure what we should have come away thinking about the lies we all tell, but I came away with a new appreciation for lies. Perhaps not solely her intent, but I certainly understood that a ‘lie’ plays different roles in different circumstances.

Blake’s story is an interesting one and told in a way that brings about reflection on how we utilise the lie in our everyday lives. In the end, a lie is a lie no matter how you dress it up. It’s a mess up, she claims (incidentally she did not say mess up; I paraphrase), sometimes a big mess up, sometimes not so much.

It is an important story that Blake tells and her friends encouraged her not to mess it up (again I paraphrase) and she most definitely did not mess it up.

Blake is easy to watch on stage. Whether she decides to stick to writing comedy or whether she decides to be front and centre on stage, if her second performance is anything to go by she is poised to bring enjoyment to audiences for a long time to come.

Blake is continually looking for new stories to add to her repertoire so do check in and tell your best story, preferably a lie, at www.WhoWereWe.com.

True Brits

True Brits is about the fleeting mixed-race relationship between Rahul and Jess.

Through this relationship Vinay Patel, billed as an outstanding young British Asian playwright and one to watch, craftily exhibits his understanding of the complexities of emotions and ideologies within the Asian community and his understanding of human relationships.

Patel masterfully yet subtly reminds us that relationships are difficult, whether between men and women, parents and children, cultures and nations. He affirms that it takes patience, understanding and love from all parties for relationships to be successful. Love, in the case of cultures and nations, means to respect humanity.

TRUE BRITS, The Vaults, Waterloo, London, UK.
Credit: Jane Hobson

Patel’s story works on stage because of David Mumeni’s skillful ability to perform this dynamic narrative – for just over an hour with no other aid than that of a couple of blocks.

Often when the story of injustices suffered by a community are told you can find yourself angry, disillusioned and without hope in humanity. Not so in True Brits. At no time does Rahul tell his story in a way to illicit such feelings. There is no squirming in your seat; you are not made to be uncomfortable. Rather, Rahul tells his story convincingly with passion, humour, dignity and self-respect, perhaps qualities that can only be attributed to his youthfulness and naivety.

Rahul’s story, assisted by the bland but effective set design, reminds us that it is ordinary people living ordinary lives with ordinary circumstances that make changes in societies. Rahul loves and lives the life of a Brit, loving his sport among other things British.

TRUE BRITS, The Vaults, Waterloo, London, UK.
Credit: Jane Hobson

Rahul is such a Brit that it appears he does not accuse or hate but rather he readily accepts the changes to the social life of young Asians post 7/7. With spirited dialogue, Rahul invites us to sit with him in the park, in the pub or in his front room as he reveals the internal struggle and the consequences he bears both inside and outside of the Asian community since the bombings.

 

For me, Mumeni’s performance is genuine. His ability to take us through complex emotions and concepts and make it look effortless does not go unnoticed. In fact, it was so effortless that at times I struggled to understand the street talk and lingo – but perhaps it was never intended for me and others outside of the Asian community to understand or maybe it is because I myself am only a pretend Brit.

In fact, I am such a pretend Brit that I almost stood up to do the “ovation thing,” a very North American way to show my appreciation for the collaboration of Patel, Mumeni and director Tanith Lindon who synthesised the script and the performance with artistic expertise. I’m happy to say I found my British composure and simply raised my hands as high as I could and applauded for as long as I was allowed, which I might add was not long enough.

True Brits is part of the Vault Festival and continues until 22 February 2015.