Category Archives: Reviews

On Mother’s Day – 3.5 Stars

Mother

On Mother’s Day

Cockpit Theatre

Reviewed – 14th August 2018

★★★½

you can see why director Erika Eva’s work has been compared to that of Complicité and DV8

 

On Mother’s Day, written by Saaramaria Kuittinen and directed by Erika Eva, tells the story of an unnamed protagonist (played by Christian Scicluna) who is on death row awaiting his sentence. Scicluna’s character is trying to make his mother a Mother’s Day card and he wants to cover it in drawings of flowers (a recurring motif/symbol in the play) but he doesn’t have any colouring pencils. He addresses the audience throughout and tells us not only what life is like inside the four walls of his cell, but also how he got there. The story moves backwards and forwards throughout time from his abusive childhood, to life with his wife and baby, and then back to the present.

While Scicluna is the only actor with significant lines there are two other performers: Lukas Bozik, who plays a number of characters including the protagonist’s abusive father as well as his violent brother, and Silvia Manazzone, who plays his mother and his wife. Bozik and Manazzone’s roles are mostly physical and they play these parts beautifully. The movements feel organic and not too choreographed, but still tight and well-executed. In these moments you can see why director Erika Eva’s work has been compared to that of Complicité and DV8. Her direction, in particular the use of the second level of the Cockpit, works well. Bozik and Manazzone stalk along the upstairs level which creates a sense of being in a prison and being watched from all sides. Again, having the piece in the round also works well to amplify the feeling of claustrophobia and being enclosed within a cell.

The set, lighting and sound are also well-done. The set is simple: white tape on the ground in the centre of the stage represents the small cell which the prisoner is kept in all day and night. There is a metal bed frame on wheels which is used as a bed, but also to represent the bars of the prison and in a number of other imaginative ways. Another creative element is the use of torches throughout the show which again, reminds one of the prison setting but also creates some visually arresting shadows and projections on the walls of the theatre. Xavier Velastin’s sound design is instrumental and minimalistic. It is atmospheric without being intrusive.

Scicluna does well to carry the piece considering he is the only character with lines. However, there is something lacking either in the script, which was cliched in some parts, or in his performance, which prevented me from becoming emotionally involved. With such dark and emotional subject matter I was surprised that the story did not move me. It is unclear how we are supposed to feel about the lead, a man who clearly had a traumatic childhood and yet committed a crime awful enough to be on death row. The nuances of this character and his situation could be better explored.

Overall, On Mother’s Day is a well-designed show with good performances but it lacks the emotional depth and connection needed for a play about such a serious topic.

 

 

Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com

 

Pigeon

On Mother’s Day

Cockpit Theatre until 16th August

as part of The Camden Fringe Festival 2018

 

 

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I Occur Here – 5 Stars

Occur

I Occur Here

The Space

Reviewed – 14th August 2018

★★★★★

“their neediness leads them to dance with a desperate parody of abandon, both agonising to watch and hilarious

 

Little known in the UK, Uruguayan novelist, essayist and poet Mario Benedetti is revered in Latin America. His death in 2009 became a catalyst for the region’s artists and writers and it is his poem ‘This is my house’ that provides the title for this short piece of physical theatre, staged with great brio at The Space Arts Theatre by the Oh Dear Theatre Company.

This work explodes Benedetti’s concept of home as a place in which there is no doubt, to the modern reality for millions, caught in the churn of teeming migration. Four transient archetypes (played by Daniela Cristo Mantilla, Nathalie Czarnecki, Santiago Del Fosco and Karolina Kritz) make their way for four different reasons, from the stability of their homelands to four barely defined destinies.

Theirs is a peculiarly modern variety of migrant, sharing nothing apart from their ‘in-betweenness’, unable to establish themselves in the cultural washing machine into which they are thrown. Indeed, clothing is used brilliantly from the start, the characters maniacally trying on and discarding clothes, effective as a metaphor for their unstable self-images, but also as a portrayal of instability itself. Wardrobe and the use of colour helps to separate out the play’s taxonomy of home-leavers – the searcher, the escaper, the mover and the ousted – creating order within a writhing, vibrant spectacle.

Physical theatre is not generally a clarifying medium. However, as a way to convey the delirium of the protagonists it is well chosen. Without acknowledging Benedetti’s influence, his appreciation of the poetry of the ordinary world runs through Hannah Winter’s script, with short, snatched scenes articulating perfectly those conversations with parents on leaving, that crisis of deciding what to pack for a journey to somewhere impossible to know. Movement Direction (Christian From) is no less articulate, for example in the scene in which the bewildered four are simply unable to sit on chairs properly, too anxious about fitting in, to fit in. Likewise, as they finally make friends, their neediness leads them to dance with a desperate parody of abandon, both agonising to watch and hilarious.

Despite a shredded narrative, mangled vowels and disconnected storylines, Directors Malena Arcucci and Mariana Aristizabel Pardo ensure the performance remains enjoyable and meaningful. Granted, it’s unlikely anyone will understand all mother tongues employed. Yet through the construction of the script, the use of audio sequences (Francisco Dorado) and lighting (Niko Goodman) to demarcate and punctuate, a kind of geometry is created to hold the audience and set up a satisfying conclusion, as the ousted meets an inevitable fate.

 

Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

 


I Occur Here

The Space until 18th August

 

Related
Previously reviewed at this venue
Citizen | ★★★★ | April 2018
Be Born | | June 2018
Bluebird | ★★★★ | July 2018

 

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