by Gemma Brockis and Silvia Mercuriali.
Battersea Arts Centre (Staff Recreation Room) Lavender Hill SW11 5TN To 3 August 2013.
Runs 50min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 August.
Interesting ideas in a perspective on cities.
Cities become more fabulous with distance. In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree,” begins Coleridge. In London, grit, grind and crowds sway daily lives. The glorious beach adjoins a favella. Olympic Moscow cleared prostitutes from its streets; Olympic London cleared traffic to create Olympic lanes.
Every city puts on a show – or it never gets talked about. Do the shows essentially differ much? Venice has the majority of canals, but on Regent’s Park canal couldn’t you momentarily think yourself in (or into) Venice?
Silvia Mercuriali is the tourist, bright and lively, engaging enthusiastically in a linguistic mash-up with the populace as she shows images of London and other cities. She starts looking for an alternative London. Seeing tall buildings reflected in the Thames, she speculates about an underground city. She divides the place into north and south, imagining the Thames running between two cities, each with an identity assembled from its buildings.
And she stretches back in time, to Marco Polo’s late 13th-century travels on horseback to Asia, meeting Kubla Khan. A horse-head occasionally emerges in near-dark on Tamar Daley, whose technical operations and sometimes annoyance at Mercuriali’s energetic insistence make her the one who does the donkey work, the city resident who doesn’t share the non-working tourist’s zest.
Running in a different bac space from Ring, this is contrastingly low-tech in its means (the, unnecessary and occasional, use of headphones might be a playful reference to the other show, along with the switching on and off of the room’s lights), and there are times it might just need smoother mechanics. Unless that’s a deliberate ploy.
For it’s in its technically simplest moment, at the culmination, Still Night achieves its strongest impact, as, necessarily slowly, the performers remove the blinds over the windows and reveal a large slice of darkening London, to be seen in the light of the piece’s reflections on the city.
Inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, the piece isn’t strong enough to ensure a new perspective has been given. But bac is very much about development and this intriguing idea is on its way.
Cast: Tamar Daley, Silvia Mercuriali.