Tag Archives: Katre

Peeping Tom: Child (Kind)

★★★

Barbican

Peeping Tom

Peeping Tom: Child (Kind)

Barbican

Reviewed – 22nd January 2020

★★★

 

“There is some delicious comedy in this show, and magic too. But it is a dark magic. Possibly too dark.”

 

Child completes Belgian physical theatre company Peeping Tom’s family trilogy, Mother and Father having already been shown at The Barbican during previous International Mime Festivals. Their style is always extraordinary, inventive and surreal, featuring a cast of seemingly boneless dancers, detailed settings and atmospheric sound and music. Both Mother and Father have combined an unsettling darkness with fabulous comic moments, but with Child the question is, have they gone too far?

The Child is played by Eurudike de Beul, an adult mezzo-soprano. She seems to be living alone in a wood, formed by Justine Bougerol’s beautifully constructed set. The wood is next to towering cliffs; it doesn’t look like a friendly place. The child sucks her thumb, rides her little bicycle and observes the behaviour of the adults who come and go in the forest. And the adults behave very badly. It’s a violent place, this adult world, and a sexualised one too. The child is drawn to the adults, who largely ignore her. Nobody will look at the picture she’s drawn, she is solitary, not understanding this strange milieu.

There is a lot of violence; the Child hacks a ‘baby,’ a tree that turns into a sort of wooden infant, to pieces after attempting to breastfeed it. She shoots a hiker multiple times, in a sequence that is both disturbing and funny, as the incredible Yi-Chun Liu writhes at every impact, creating seemingly impossible positions as she is flung around the forest by the impacts. And she smashes someones head in with rock. The Child sometimes breaks into an operatic aria, showcasing de Beul’s excellent voice. One problem is that the Child is inherently unlikeable, despite sympathy for her situation I cared less and less about her as the evening wore on.

The violence is one thing, but it’s the sexual exploitation of the Child that oversteps the mark. She is kissed and fondled by passing adults, sometimes seeming to enjoy it, but also disturbed by the experience. This is a strange look at childhood; love doesn’t enter the picture, and the dark imaginings that are played out seem to come from a nineteenth century casebook of insanity.

Peeping Tom’s directors Gabriela Carrizo and Franck Chartier work closely with their cast to devise and develop their shows. They are always thought provoking, as this certainly was. We are left wondering how much of the events are in the Child’s imagination, and if the violence she happily partakes in is intended to show the underlying tendencies of untamed human nature.

When a real child appears, and is threatened by Brandon Lagaer’s forest ranger, one of the only tender elements brings some warmth to proceedings, when the dead hiker appears, gently wraps her in warm clothes and leads her away. Is she dead? Dying? We don’t know. But at least someone cares.

There are some wonderful surprises and stand out moments; the appearance of the cast in back to front old man’s heads, scuttling like spiders, the tube/worm that is so bendy that it’s hard to believe there is a human inside. Maria Carolina Vieira’s cowgirl moment and Marie Gyselbrecht’s care for her baby tree. There is some delicious comedy in this show, and magic too. But it is a dark magic. Possibly too dark.

 

Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Olympe Tits

 


Peeping Tom: Child (Kind)

Barbican until 25th January

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Knight Of The Burning Pestle | ★★★★ | June 2019

 

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Coming Clean

★★★★

Trafalgar Studios

Coming Clean

Coming Clean

Trafalgar Studios

Reviewed – 10th January 2020

★★★★

 

“Adam Spreadbury-Maher’s production is atmospheric, moving and hugely enjoyable”

 

Screamingly funny and surprisingly moving, Coming Clean is an eighties anthem to love, friendship and the pain of infidelity. The play premiered in 1982, at the end of the more carefree pre-AIDS era when gay men didn’t have to think about that kind of danger. It’s a domestic drama, centred on the life of Tony and Greg, a couple who have what appears to be a stable non-monogamous relationship. Their neighbour and friend William is a party animal and disco queen, cruising and fucking his way round London’s gay scene. He is played with a glorious camp panache by Elliot Hadley, who also manages to convey the warmth and vulnerability beneath William’s outrageous surface. Hadley also makes a hilarious appearance, at the end of the play, as Jurgen, a leather clad German who Tony has brought home for sex. Tony and Greg, played by Lee Knight and Stanton Plummer-Cambridge, are a believable couple who live in Greg’s Kentish Town flat. Their fifth anniversary is coming up and all seems to be well until Tony hires a cleaner. When the cleaner arrives he turns out to be Robert, an attractive out of work actor. And we are on our way to a love triangle.

Lee Knight is superb as Tony, deeply in love with Greg but frustrated by his role as the one who does the housework and his problems with his writing. He is butterfly-like in his subtle mood shifts, becoming a little different depending who he is with, enjoying William’s camp bravado and Greg’s stable strength. Stanton Plummer-Cambridge’s Greg is focussed and taciturn; he can’t tell a joke and is irritated when things don’t go his way. But the two men are OK together, despite some sexual issues, until Robert arrives in their lives. Jonah Rzeskiewicz gives Robert a young, almost puppy like, enthusiasm and a pinch of endearing nervousness. He seems too sweet to be the cause of the pain to come.

The action all takes place in the flat, a perfect reincarnation of an eighties pad, created by designer Amanda Mascarenhas. From the rug on the floor to the Thriller poster on the wall it’s an evocation of a world when a pint of beer cost 90p and Kentish Town was an affordable place to live. The eighties music, and the classical records on the record player keep us firmly in the right time and place. Adam Spreadbury-Maher’s production is atmospheric, moving and hugely enjoyable. It is also nostalgically sad, because from our twenty-first century viewpoint we can see the looming shadow of the coming AIDS epidemic and the terrible suffering it brought to the gay community.

Kevin Elyot’s writing is sharp and witty and, although he uses some standard tropes, a partner returning home early, only to find his lover ‘at it’ with someone else, there is also a depth and understanding of the pain of infidelity that, with credit to Knight’s portrayal, is almost visceral. There is surprisingly little reference to the difficulties of being gay in 1982, Tony and Greg’s relationship being seemingly undisturbed by the outside world. It is only William’s attack that introduces a harsher societal context to the work.

 

Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Ali Wright

 


Coming Clean

Trafalgar Studios until 1st February

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
A Hundred Words For Snow | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Admissions | ★★★ | March 2019
Scary Bikers | ★★★★ | April 2019
Vincent River | ★★★★ | May 2019
Dark Sublime | ★★★ | June 2019
Equus | ★★★★★ | July 2019
Actually | ★★★★ | August 2019
The Fishermen | ★★★½ | September 2019
A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg | ★★ | October 2019
The Girl Who Fell | ★★★★ | October 2019

 

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