The Yard Theatre
Reviewed – 30th January 2019
“its experimental nature has the possibility of alienating some whilst captivating others”
Through music, dance and documentary, Seke Chimutengwende’s performance of Plastic Soul invites us to watch the evolution of Plastic, a mythical performer, who’s identity and image are perpetually changing.
Various performances by Chimutengwende, from singing to dance, reflect Plastic’s rise and fall, a narrative that is made clearer by the documentary interviews that are projected on the back wall of the stage space. In these sometimes comedic interviews, various guests discuss Plastic’s journey from soul to plastic soul, stripping away and interrogating the artist’s identity until it is unsure what’s left behind. The piece doesn’t try to give us answers – it’s experimental and it leaves interpretation up to us, the audience.
The very opening number left me initially unsure of the show – the singing wasn’t fantastic and the concept hadn’t yet made sense to me. However, as the performance progressed, it became clear that it was creating drama and indeed some comedy in a unique way, in a way that forced its audience to resist temptations to think too hard in the moment. Instead, Chimutengwende’s movements on stage, evolving from rigid to fluid, funny to emotive, invited us to be swept along in the story before us, a story that didn’t feel like it relied on clarity but rather on an exploration of an idea. How much of ourselves do we lose in search of authenticity, soul, and indeed, our identity?
The use of sound guided the piece along, from the noise of insects creating a disconcerting atmosphere as Plastic metamorphosed, to the flowing melodies that accompanied Chimutengwende around the space. The costumes were perfectly designed and put together, creating a real variation that heightened the excitement of the piece, keeping it fresh and intriguing whilst adding some sparkle to the otherwise bare stage. Furthermore, the performer was able to adjust their body to suit the varying styles of music and sound, and at times this was mesmerising to watch.
Whilst I found this show enjoyable, I believe it could leave audiences split; its experimental nature has the possibility of alienating some whilst captivating others. Chimutengwende puts fantastic energy into this performance, and though at times the show lost momentum, it certainly left me thinking. One of the documentary interviewees notes something along the lines of, “I’m not sure I fully understand it, but I’m inspired.” I’d second that.
Reviewed by Tobias Graham
Photography by Maurizio Martorana
The Yard Theatre until 2nd February as part of Now 19 Festival
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: