Dubbed ‘gig theatre’, this Battersea Arts Center production is more gig than theatre. It is inspired by Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, but only has a tangential connection to this gothic novel in some thematic rumors. Her main focus is alienation and the internet.
The show begins with a warm-up act that gets the audience going. We are allowed to help shape and create drum noises ourselves, with hissing snares and hi-hats and kick drums. Then six young performers in gray hoodies and black pants take a stand. They are from Battersea Beatbox Academy. Each has its own personality and an even more distinctive selection of exceptional sounds.
Co-directors Conrad Murray and David Cumming bring the talent into neat shapes for each song, but the overall effect is disappointing; The show doesn’t build in any dramatic sense. Lighting designer Sherry Coenen creates a dynamic atmosphere with bare bulbs and high contrasts.
Some performers emphasize vocal clarity more than others, and the show gets too loud at times. A few beatbox battles are fought, with the audience getting to clap the loudest for the winner. The whole show has a youth club vibe. The main currency here is energy: a young audience at the premiere I attended wanted to have a good time and happily enjoyed the energy rushing out of them.
But what is it doing on the Gate stage? If the idea is to educate an audience for the theater by attracting young people, that is profoundly wrong. This show has panache, talented performers, a pounding bass sound – but it’s no drama. It’s a beatbox gig and it belongs on Vicar Street. There’s a lively audience for that, but it’s not a theater audience. It could be argued that hosting this is better than the gate being dark, but it’s not much better.
It risks discouraging actual theater audiences, who currently feel alienated and neglected. Faced with the challenges of declining attendance, there is a temptation to degrade the art form rather than strive to make better theatre. If we’re served that, they might as well put the key in the mailbox and turn off the lights at the gate.
Satirical strutting roosters and bucking swans
Bold Steps at the O’Reilly Theatre, Dublin
Ballet Ireland’s triple list of contemporary choreographies begins with transgress by Filipe Portugal, a highly romantic piece in which dancers in delicate blue costumes float. Grace and harmony prevail as with Philip Glass Tyrol Piano Concerto offers a somewhat subdued musical experience, more background than actual.
the second piece Dashes through the tailby choreographer Marguerite Donlon, cheerfully mines the humor in Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Dancers in formal tailcoats and tulle skirts perform a subtle but effective satire on several of the ballet’s cherished sacred cows; Serried swans in particular are whipped.
The third section, by Christopher Bruce Faucet, brings an old-rock sensibility to a number of Rolling Stones songs. The Stones’ songs have a different note in this context, more disciplined and careful, as they are dominated by the spectacular choreography. A humorous depiction of masculinity as a strutting tail is repeated throughout.
video of the day
This is a worthwhile triptych, each with its own distinctive flavor. Standout is Donlon’s play, which has a sizzling contemporary energy in its approach to gender ambiguity; his tongue-in-cheek sideways glance at the ballet convention is a hoot. An international company of top-notch dancers that shine with both personality and skill.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/theatre-arts/how-to-make-a-monster-why-is-the-gate-theatre-hosting-a-beatbox-gig-41574748.html How to Make a Monster – why is the Gate Theater hosting a beatbox gig?