by She She Pop and their Fathers.
Barbican (Pit) Silk Street EC2Y 8DS To 7 June 2014.
Runs: 1hr 55min No interval.
TICKETS: 0845 120 7511.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 4 June.
Theatrical sophistication searching-out human relationships.
LIFT has arrived – London International Festival of Theatre takes place on a rooftop, art gallery, museum – and in theatres.
Including the Barbican (motto ‘Do Something Different’), where, in the Pit, Berlin-based She She Pop’s Testament taps into a current trend – performers bringing their family on stage. With Bryony Kimmings and her 8-year old niece touring, and Battersea about to entertain two generation in Our Fathers, She She’s show drags the company’s dads into the limelight.
They sit at the side for some time, but from there their images are projected along the rear wall like family portraits capable of twitching and glancing around. And the whole thing becomes, too, a perceptive comment on King Lear.
As the company said in a post-show session facilitated (and largely dominated) by director Julia Bardsley, German theatre differentiates sharply between ‘actors’ who create characters in plays, and ‘performers’ who play as themselves. She She have found a place between, but closer to the latter, and it was theatre directors asking when they were going to do a real play that led them to think about Lear. They also claim to have a piece about themselves and their mothers, so we shouldn’t expect Shakespeare and company will get too much of a look in.
Youthful-looking as they are, the company’s women (and one man) are coming to middle-age and the time when the previous generation is evidently past its peak – there’s a list, at one point, of the mundane, distasteful physical ways children may have to care for aged parents. This change-over is central, and it includes here a modern equivalent of the knights Lear expected to trail around his daughters’ homes. There’s also a comic attempt to quantify relationships.
Alongside Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s father-daughter ‘love’ duet ‘Something Stupid’, technology is used to enrich the piece, most tellingly perhaps at the end. The cardboard coffin used to inter one father has its lid appropriated as a screen showing a projected image of father and daughter. Love and death combine, before it’s shown, movingly, if obviously, that in the end we all die.
Performers: Sebastian and Joachim Bark, Johanna Freiburg, Fanni and Peter Halmburger, Illa and Theo Papatheodorou.
Lighting: Sven Nichterlein.
Sound: Florian Fischer.
Music: Christopher Uhe.
Costume: Lea Sovso.
Dramaturgs: Kaja Jokstat, Veronikma Steininger.