Dadderrs / In a Way so Brutal
The Yard Theatre
Reviewed – 22nd January 2020
Dadderrs ★★★ In a Way so Brutal ★★★★
“This is an intensely theatrical evening, but it is stretching the definition of theatre, to the extent that you might well question it”
Just occasionally (I’ve only done it once before in my two and a half years reviewing for Spy in the Stalls) an assignment demands that I step out of the traditional anonymity assigned to the critic; last night’s double bill at The Yard was one such evening. This is visceral work that wants our involvement. And though, yes, there are elements of ‘audience participation’, that isn’t really what I mean. I mean, in LIFE. It is work that shouts, ‘BE ACTIVE. GET INVOLVED. THINK. QUESTION. LIVE.’ I’ll be turning 50 in a few months time, and was definitely one of the oldies in the audience, and I left feeling invigorated and excited by the creative possibilities being explored by these contemporary makers, even if not everything was to my taste. This is an intensely theatrical evening, but it is stretching the definition of theatre, to the extent that you might well question it. Is this theatre? Or is it performance art? Whatever your answer might be, it’s mighty refreshing to be made to think about it!
First up is Dadderrs, performed by husband and wife team – or husband and husband/wife team, as they introduce themselves – Daniel Oliver and Frauke Requardt. It isn’t a play, so much as a happening, akin to the work of 1960s performance artists, both here and across the Atlantic, and it combines many elements beloved of that period – nudity, paint, surreal costume, haze, audience involvement, singing and an otherworldly soundscape (credit here to Steve Blake’s terrific work). Frauke and Daniel invite us into their marriage, and into an uninhibited, intimate, honest, playful, shame-free world of their devising – the Meadowdrome. Daniel is dyspraxic and Frauke has ADHD, and the piece plays with their different tempos; in so doing, it invites us to think about difference, and how harmony can be found there. Ultimately, it is a piece about love. Spoken by an audience member and left hanging in the air as the stage is plunged back into the soundless dark, love is the very last word. Love.
Coming back into the space after the interval, it’s clear that we’re about to witness a very different spectacle with In a Way so Brutal. (It’s also clear why the interval overran by 20 minutes!) The level of art and artifice has stepped up a gear, and we are presented with a stunning (and also seriously tongue in cheek) living picture. Eirini Kartsaki is posed like a Botticelli, all curvy flesh and flowing tresses, but…her nipples are suction-cupped with plastic, and there are Sarah Lucas-like stuffed stocking shapes adorning the ‘set’. Tasos Stamou’s table of sonic wizardry is lit up like a miniature futuristic cityscape, and Stamou himself produces sound as a chemist produces psychedelics. Quite apart from the exceptional music he was making, watching him work was hypnotic. Kartsaki is a powerful presence on stage, both visually and vocally. Although the words themselves seemed curiously ‘retro-shock’ to me, the combined visual, sonic and aural sense assault ended up seducing me with its fierce and sexy punk energy. And seduction by theatre is never a bad thing.
The Yard’s Now festival is billed as ‘the festival of the best theatre for right Now’. Whether or not you agree will arguably depend on what your experience of ‘right now’ is. If the status quo suits, this evening won’t be for you; if not, it might well be exactly the joyful, anarchic fix you’re crying out for.
Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw
Photography by Maurizio Martorana
Dadderrs / In a Way so Brutal
The Yard Theatre until 25th January as part of Now 20
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: