Skip to main content

Manipulate 2011 Review

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
Which came first, chicken or egg? You’d be as well asking this age-old
philosophical question of puppeteer Nicole Mossoux and composer Patrick
Bonte, who as Compagnie Mossoux-Bonte brought their latest show, Kefar
Nahum, to this year’s Manipulate festival of visual theatre last week.
Named after the village that existed beside the Sea of Galilee and more
commonly known to westerners as Capernaum, Kefar Nahum attempts to get
to the biblical essence of creation via a series of fantastical
creatures created from assorted detritus and soundtracked by the
glitches of Bonte’s live electronic score.

It’s a blink and you’ll miss it affair, mind, as evolution moves on
before you’re ever allowed to get a handle on what makes its ancestors
tick. Even with such quick-fire constructions, however, Mossoux and
Bonte manage to serve up an eye-popping array of creatures on the road
to extinction.

And so to Jerk, French auteur Giselle Vienne’s astonishing staging of
American writer Dennis Cooper’s short story that puts real-life serial
killer David Brooks in the frame to re-enact his crimes with his
teenage partner in crime Wayne Henley and their older mentor Dean Corll
via a pair of cuddly glove puppets. If this sounds too daft to take
seriously, think again, because in one of the major highlights of this
year’s Manipulate, Vienne, Cooper and performer Jonathan Capdevielle
have created one of the most provocative and truly disturbing pieces of
theatre you’re likely to see.

It begins quietly enough, with Capdeveielle sitting on a chair beside a
ghetto-blaster as the audience enter. With the house lights still up,
Capdeveille as Brooks explains that we are an audience of psychology
students, and that the show and tell he’s about to present is part of
his therapy while incarcerated. He then gets us to read from a fanzine
apparently written by Brooks, one of several alienation devices used
throughout the show that force the audience to be much more than
passive observers.

There’s a beguiling intimacy to Capdevielle’s remarkable solo
performance that makes his actions all the more troubling as you bear
voyeuristic witness to a litany of sodomy, rape, torture and the murder
of young boys. The fact that no-one is actually being hurt onstage, but
that the discomfort is down to the distancing effect of the puppets
combined with the inner workings of the audiences mind is a simple but
devastating device. It is the suggestion of violence rather than any
flesh and blood sensationalist depiction of it, that is important here.
This is even more the case for the last third of the fifty-five minute
piece, when Capdeveielle dispenses of the puppets entirely to simply
throw his voice in a scarifying display.

Make no mistake. This isn’t what Tom Wolfe once dubbed pornoviolence,
designed to titillate thrill-seekers with the sort of gory material
they can only gawp at. Instead, by putting the audience in such an
uncomfortable position, Vienne and co force us to confront the dark
side of our imaginations in a stunningly intense and utterly grown-up
piece of work.

The Herald, February 7th 2011

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Michael Rother - Sterntaler at 40

"There's so much to do," says an uncharacteristically flustered Michael Rother. The normally unflappably beatific German guitarist, composer and former member of Neu! and Harmonia, who also had a stint in a nascent Kraftwerk, is packing for live dates in Russia and the UK, including this weekend's show at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow.
"It has always been my choice to take care of these things myself and not have a manager," he says. "Somehow for me the independent aspect of doing things is really important, but it has its disadvantages."
As well as playing selections from Neu! and Harmonia, the trio he formed with Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, Rother's Glasgow date will see him play a fortieth anniversary rendering of his second solo album, Sterntaler, in full. Rother will be accompanied by guitarist Franz Bargmann and drummer Hans Lampe, the latter of whose musical involvement with Rother dates back to Neu! days, …

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…