by Laurie Anderson.
Barbican Theatre Silk Street EC2Y 8DS To 17 April 2010.
Runs: 1hr 30min No interval.
Review: Carole Woddis 16 April.
I feel I’ve been watching Laurie Anderson forever. We’ve grown old together. Except Anderson looks exactly the same as the gamine musician who blew the world away with `O Superman’ nearly 30 years ago. With her spiky hair and electric violin, the elfin like Irish- Swedish American looks as she did then, unchanging.
A critic even in 1981 on the state of US politics, she has continued to be acerbic about its place in the world whilst pioneering new frontiers in music, video and story-telling. It’s no wonder that in 2002 Anderson was appointed the first-artist-in residence of NASA. Her imaginative scope reaches to the cosmos and beyond.
Delusion is another fabulous journey into Anderson’s haunting landscapes, interleaving deliberations on the fluidity of time – Dr Who isn’t the only one who believes in Time travel – through morphing videos interlaced with spiralling violin (and two other silhouetted musicians) and her own particular brand of story-telling.
Anderson’s programme acknowledgement generously indicates the number of people involved in an Anderson project. Delusion is in part inspired by the Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu. But it is still Anderson’s presence and that inimitable voice – seductive, lulling, half ironic – that continues to hold audiences in thrall. Here it has also been electronically distorted to create a male persona. Anderson in dialogue with Anderson.
But it is also Anderson in dialogue with mortality. Delusion may or may not be about the delusion human beings entertain about their control of their time on earth; it is very much about death.
There is a personal reconciliation going on here – the death of an unloved mother who died before Anderson could tell her that she had actually `cared’. In her place, a dying woman, surrounded by her pet dogs with Anderson in attendance and the dying woman thanking Anderson for letting her take part in her performance, is substituted.
For a moment it feels like an uncustomary act of voyeurism until you realise its circularity and the intention behind it. Anderson’s projects concentrated intensity with a clarity and purity that one can only describe as Buddhist. Buddhism in action.
Performer/Designer/Music: Laurie Anderson.
Guest Musician: Viola: Eyvind Kang.
Horns: Colin Stetson.
Lighting/Production: Rus Snelling.
Video/Live Mix: Amy Khoshbin.
Front of House Audio: Dave Cook.
Video Director of Photography: Maryse Alberti.
Additional video: Toshiaki Ozawa.
Story Team: Bob Currie, Rande Brown.
Audio Rig: Shane Koss.
Audio Software: Konrad Kaczmarek.
Violin design: Ned Steinberger.