London.: Gob Squad: Revolution Now!

by The Gob Squad.

Institute of Contemporary Arts The Mall SW1Y 5AH To 26 June 2010.
Runs 1hr 45 min No interval.
Review: Carole Woddis 25 June 25.

Gob Squad plays god.
One of London’s most influential summer festivals, Lift (London International Festival of Theatre) has just kicked off. Under new artistic director Mark Ball, there’s a rich array of experimental work on view over the next three and a half weeks.

Unfortunately the companies often have very short runs, like this UK/German company Gob Squad, at the ICA for just three performances.

Why review a show with so few local performances? Like TV or a music gig, recording the moment can have a supremely important cumulative effect. You could argue that it is precisely because of reporting these fleeting visitations over the past fifty years that the British experimental theatre is currently in such rude health. And, of course, today’s experiment is tomorrow’s mainstream.

So to the Gob Squad, formed in 1994, partly based partly in Nottingham, partly in Berlin. Revolution Now! sees them, after their last modestly-named project, Saving the World, formenting world wide revolution. Are we ready for it?

Judging by the reactions of passers-by in The Mall, hardly. The Gob Squad use a mixture of methods – a light-touch irony to undercut the whole notion of revolution, indoor audience participation to get us `on side’ and then the coup de grace, going outside with video-link and mic to accost ordinary members of the public on their readiness to change the world. Direct interactive Action!

Behind the throwaway atmosphere is a serious notion about the state of our planet, and wanting to do something about it. The Gob Squad have a nicely insouciant, if slightly immature anarchic feeling about them. But I couldn’t help thinking of ‘Candid Camera’ and latter-day TV `reality’ shows where gratification comes on the back of others’ discomfort. Gob Squad’s script too is lightweight in comparison with the work of someone like Forced Entertainment’s Tim Etchells.

All the same, they inspire a welcome spirit of insurrection. On the night I was there, the best part of the show came from successfully persuading a highly sceptical young passer-by, John, to join the 100 or so `revolutionaries’ `occupying’ the ICA. Entertainment for the rebel within. Next stop, Cologne.

Performers/Devisers: Johanna Freiburg, Sean Patten, Sharon Smith, Berit Stumpf, Sarah Thom, Laura Tonke, Bastian Trost, Simon Will.

Sound: Jeff McGrory.
Live Music/Arrangements: Christopher Uhe, Masha Qrella.
Video Miles Chalcraft, Kathrin Krottenthaler .
Choreographers TnT (Tatiana and Tamara Saphir).
Costume: Pieter Bax.
Dramaturg: Christina Runge.
Dramaturgical advisors Aenne Quiñones, Götz Leineweber.
Artistic assistant Milena Kipfmüller
Stage design assistant Jochen Hochfeld.
Costume assistant Veronika Weinhold.

Revolution Now! is a Gob Squad production, co-produced by donaufestival Niederösterreich, Schauspiel Köln and Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. With financial support from Berliner Kulturverwaltung. It had its UK premiere at the ICA as part of Lift 2010 on June 24th and then toured to the Donaufestival in Austria and the Schauspiel Köln in Germany.

2010-07-09 14:22:31

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