BE Festival

Birmingham Rep

Saturday, 27th June 2015

THE final night of BE Festival 2015 was a fitting culmination of a roaring week of theatre and dance, celebrated in one hub.

The REP was buzzing with a party atmosphere and performers and audience alike were excited to celebrate and find out who had won the Audience and Judge’s Awards.

The winners of the festival gain support and guidance through the festival to put their show on tour. Here is a round up of performances from the final evening.

(Don’t) Trust Me – Danielle van Vree

The unique piece by students from Amsterdam Theatre School dealt with the topic of eye contact. Their individual dance piece crossed the boundaries of art and explored a topic that we often think about, but never analyse deeply.

Their fascinating technique of mime and ensemble work paired with great technicality was a source for a strong production of thirty minutes.

The company made sure that the audience were just as much part of the production as they were. A live camera feed was used throughout the piece governed by performers as they filmed audience’s eyes to gain the reaction in the exact moment.

Their performance was charged with high intensity and incredible detail, never letting the audience forget about the importance of eye contact.

Filled with research, the company made up of members Hidde Aans Verkade, Zoë Demoestier, Dennis Tiecken, Johanna Krueger, Ritzah Statia and Simon Van Schuylenbergh demonstrated a creativity that was a treat to the imagination and very true to the psychology of a relationship between two people.

In an interesting sequence, the company showed their strength of togetherness which resulted in some beautiful scenes. As a reflection to the impact of the actions of others around us, performers would fall to the ground randomly and others would catch them before the fall. Impressive acts of trust highlighted the strength and ability of the whole company.

The piece was daring and showed a concept that was as equally interesting as it was entertaining. Danielle van Vree is a fearless director who gave a remarkable amount of faith and trust to her performers to create a showcase that the audience trusted in too. They are memorable, thrilling and bring a unique voice to the genre of mime.

Quintetto – Tida – Theatre Danse

As the title of the play suggests – it would be expected that five performers were involved in this production. Actor Marco Chenevier however performed this piece as a one-man show. In a raucously funny example of how every role in theatre is as important as the other, Chenevier from Italy created a remarkably distinctive piece that had the auditorium thundering with laughter from start to finish.

Chenevier took the role of actor as director, including the entire audience in this piece that presented surprising creativity. He addressed us with a sense of honest truth that it was hard to remember that it was a performance.

As a reaction to the financial crisis in Italy, we found out the reason why Chenevier was the only performer. He could not pay the rest of the company and they refused to work for free, leaving Chenevier with no choice but to perform his piece with volunteers from the audience to fill their roles.

There was a lighting rig at the side of the stage and audience members were ordered to work the technical elements of his production without any prior knowledge. He also asked others to become a chorus, instructing them on what to do when the performance started. When it did, a plethora of hilarious chaos ensued.

Those on stage tried their hardest to remember what was being asked of them but failed to execute the right lighting, leaving Chenevier to improvise around it.

As a bold statement to political and social injustice, TIDA presented their voice in the most powerful of ways.

#sobrejulieta – Grumelot

Romeo and Juliet is possibly Shakespeare’s most popular play. Many audiences will be knowledgeable of the plot and the character of Juliet. In this presentation by Grumelot from Spain, she explores the character in the most intricate of ways to allow the audience to explore her soul and mind together with performer. This one-woman piece brings Shakespeare to a new level and tests the boundaries of love and art.

Grumelot plays the part of Juliet and the audience are her Romeo. In a clever retelling of the famous story, she builds the bridge between science and art and demonstrates the science of love.

This is a thirty-minute piece, and Grumelot’s aim is to fall in love with the audience within that time. She does this by involving us in every scene. In the party scene, she plays a ping-pong game with an audience member, as they try to land the ball into a drink with once bounce. She uses the words of Shakespeare to cast a spell on us. Speaking the Bard’s words in Spanish then reverting to English when addressing us was a fabulous way of making the piece truly distinctive.

It was an impressive and funny piece, using every tool she could to create a world to fall in love with. One moment that was particularly memorable was when after meeting Romeo, she leaves the auditorium and we are left watching her walk around the building through an on-stage projection, making it look as if it was a live feed.

Her play took the classic role of Juliet and Shakespeare’s work and fed it into the contemporary world. It was a thoroughly entertaining piece to ignite the audience’s imagination and fall in love with her.

Game – Unstable King

Taking the role of characters in a video game, artists Michael Bell, Louis Lamprell & Ryan Murphy show their skills as circus performers to create a piece both daring and thought-provoking.

Game is a reaction to the way in which the current generation have become obsessed with the world of computers and video games. Weavingcast of game their circus skills to a piece of high entertainment, Unstable King was funny and incredibly visual.

Each character had individual characteristics and all had one aim; to win the game and defeat evil. Throughout the piece, they provoked questions as to ‘who made them’ and if their fates were already mapped out.

Playing against each other, tensions were seen with each character and in sequences of conflict, they eventually came together for their universal purpose. The result was that the audience saw fantastic choreographed circus sequences of juggling with hats and an impressive finale of climbing up ladders without assistance or support.

Unstable King are a remarkable new company from the UK with awesome talent and aim to entertain audiences whilst presenting underlying questions of how technology has become an integral part of people’s everyday life.

Elizabeth Halpin 

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