Sunday, February 05, 2017

On reflection, I think that Love It Or Leave It! was probably very excellent. 

The acting was polished and the timing, perfection. The fact that the contents were largely unintelligible to me was neither here nor there. I staggered through a couple of reviews of it, one complimentary which I now can't find and another which is less so. My German isn't up to it so I put it through Google Translate with deliciously mystifying consequences. But the review which I now can't find thought that the play was a marvellous metaphor for the Turkish Republic. As the title of the play says, if you don't like it, leave it. But I didn't, did I?! In any case, the two hours of pain enduring the thing in the first place were pretty amply recompensed by your hilarious comments on my original post. For which, thank you.

I managed to gravitate towards more esoteric theatre earlier this week. Maybe esoteric is unfair, actually, but it was - let's say - philosophical theatre. Cities was brought to the Manipulate Festival which offers up puppetry and animation,  courtesy of Theatre De La Pire Espece. The programme offered the same dishearteningly vague description of the show: "partial but precise X-rays of our human social organisations, revealing the various secret collective obsessions and cancers that can devour us all." Gulp.

But it looked delightful. It featured a man surrounded by various tables with shelves and compartments aplenty. He had a little video camera trained onto the table of choice and would film the objects he collected from the compartments, ranged and rearranged as he went, sometimes accompanied by his pre-recorded voice and sometimes to music or other sound effects. Sometimes he would speak 'live' as it were. He might take household objects that, filmed from an unusual perspective, looked completely different. Or he sometimes used little Playmobil people arranged in stumpy rows. The film of the ranged and rearranged objects was projected onto a much larger screen alongside his work station.

I loved and was impressed by the inventiveness of this show. But rather like the German reviewer above, I was left a little unmoved by the content. In the name of full disclosure, I DID have quite a big sleep. But this was only after I'd watched quite a lot of it and found it wanting to me from a story point of view.

The concept for the show was sound enough. Here is how people end up bundling into living alongside each other - and here are all the ways in which it doesn't work. But I missed the end scene so perhaps he knitted all the strands together in an elegant and profound musing on humanity's chance for salvation. Or perhaps he thought that he didn't know the answer either but it's a thing that's bothering him, will bother other people too and what better reason to explore it through a piece of theatre?

Narrative or philosophy aside, the performer was excellent. His / their collective ingenuity was excellent. But I guess this isn't the first time I've seen a show using this technique. Hark at me. So I could have been more impressed. But I gather they created the show in 2014 so then, perhaps, it would have seemed more remarkable. 

Poor old bitter cynic. I daresay this says much more about me than this excellent French-Canadian theatre company.  


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