Birmingham and Stockton
FURIOUS FOLLY, Mark Anderson
Birmingham followed by Stockton
Ends: Approx 23:15
Free admission, but tickets must be booked
Info and tickets: www.1418now.org.uk/commissions/furious-f
Incredibly powerful evocation, commemoration and provocation
FURIOUS FOLLY (Mark Anderson), powerful, engrossing, thought-provoking, is one of 27 works commissioned by the Arts Council to commemorate the First World War. This performance was experienced in Sutton Park in Birmingham, two more performances are to come in Stockton.
Anderson puts forward a fierce anti-war message. The event begins with us being corralled in holding areas; we hear a shocking account of the botched execution of a young deserter. Further extracts are heard; of a kind of hidden history, accounts of mutinies among French and German soldiers. All are intercut with percussion and popular songs from the period. The message is in the juxtapositions.
We are then instructed to ‘Move forward to your positions’; we are in a darkening arena and the event begins, among us and around us. Anderson amasses a disturbing and exciting range of audio and visual effects which have us listening, watching and thinking. Distant bombs cause huge fires on the edge of our vision, visible bullets whistle around us accompanied by the tolling of a bell, a white faced corpse tells us of his injuries, voices speak haltingly of waiting for their next letter. Great thumps from guns shake the ground and vibrate though our bodies. And ever, in moments of repose, the so-beautiful singing of birds. The event is immediate and powerful.
Part of the thrill of events such as these is their multi-layered nature. Are these war-time flares we see, lighting up our trenches to make us easier targets, or are they fireworks for our delight (the mechanisms are the same.) Nor can we ignore this is a beautiful park for peace and tranquillity. Nor ignore, this is where many soldiers were trained before being sent to the fronts. Low jets fly overhead, approaching Birmingham airport – are they bringing holiday makers home from France, from Belgium, from Germany?
I am one of two thousand people, I am among children holding parents’ hands, young people, middle-aged and older. Anderson concludes, completing his circle, driving the mantra home: ‘Do not fight, do not fight, do not fight.’ Is he correct? Is he correct in all circumstances? That’s for us to think about, for it is not an artist’s job to give us answers, but to raise questions. And powerfully.
Two more performances, 4 and 5 August, Stockton; tickets and information from Stockton International Riverside Festival; full information on the event and links to tickets on https://www.1418now.org.uk/commissions/furious-folly