by Pierre Rigal.
Gate Theatre above the Prince Albert Pub 11 Pembridge Street S11 3HQ To 8 May 2010.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7229 0706.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 12 April.
Performers make a fine synthesis of guitars, percussion and keyboard.
A “physical concert” is how Pierre Rigal describes his latest offering at the Gate. Curiously, it’s called Micro, though it’s twice the length of his previous piece there, Press. There is a story attached to this “physical concert”; it can be read in the programme and is probably more apparent there than in the event itself.
But there’s no mistaking the physicality of the rock concert that emerges during the evening. All that’s visible at first is the paraphernalia of such an event, guitars, percussion, amplifiers. These start moving, apparently of their own accord, as cymbals nod to each other, or fall over, and as a couple of guitars gently waltz around.
Their human manipulators emerge in time, and proceed to pound the sound in unconventional ways. Amplifiers hum loudly in rhythm, electric guitars clash, strings mashing together. Even prone on the floor, no guitar’s safe, being plucked by horizontal performers. At one point Mélanie Chartreux plays a grounded guitar, her feet in the air, shoes adding to the percussive patterns created by Gwenaël Drapeaux.
It’s almost a pity, so inventive is this section, to see the players discover more orthodox ways of treating their instruments. But it leads to some fine music, loud and gentler, with vocals added. And to a natural conclusion. Which turns out not to be so natural. Or conclusive. Near the end we’ve heard demonic cackling from Drapeaux.
When it comes to what turns out to be some way from a final bow, Drapeaux and his drumsticks can’t give up. A final three-against-one stand-off is heightened by the inevitable strobe lighting, and a series of false endings to the rhythmic rat-a-tats and the melodic attempts to block them that goes back to a very different musical sound: the fake-endings of Joseph Haydn.
Rigal’s band find a witty new way of concluding their final face-off. It’s the culmination of a piece that falls between – no, uses elements of – rock concert and physical theatre, with an individual ingenuity and humour that mark their creator out. And which make for a constantly inventive rhythmic and sonorous entertainment.
Performers: Mélanie Chartreux, Malik Djoudi, Gewnaël Drapeau, Juklien Lepreux.
Director/Choreographer: Pierre Rigal.
Designer/Lighting: Frédéric Stoll.