LATITUDE 2011 – DAY 2: This is more like it. After yesterday’s early rain, the summer returns with blue skies and soaring temperatures at Latitude. While yesterday was all about wellies and mud, today it is suntan lotion and avoiding sunburn. Welcome to the vagaries of the great British summer.
There’s a chill in the air however for the day’s opening events at the theatre tent. Clean Break Theatre Company’s double bill looks at the darker side of humanity.
Dancing Bears, a look at life, and love, or more accurately the confusion of lust and love takes a bleak look at inner city life. For young Aaron football should be treated as a dance, and his passion and skill is potentially his way to a new life, though he sees the opportunity of a role on the team more as potential for a new shirt rather than a boost in income.
It’s a powerful piece, full of gritty reality. The cast perform with conviction and while not always an easy piece to watch it is a compelling look at the challenges facing our inner cities.
Immersive theatre requiring audience participation is always a risky option for theatre companies, you hope and pray for an engaged audience but its always a gamble – will the audience participate or with the infamous British reserve sit their in silence? non zero one’s The Time Out pushes this concept to the limit. Staged for just 12 audience members at a time, a group of strangers enter a locker room to be told that in nine minutes 39 seconds they will be taking part in a water polo match. Can you rely on the other 11 people around you and how do you build team morale form a bunch of strangers in such a short time-scale? Ok, so it takes slightly longer than nine minutes but, by the end of the piece, the team have gelled into a pumped-up team ready to tackle anything. Through clever use of motivational talks, audio and team bonding exercises, you and your fellow team mates are encouraged to share your skills and failures, learn more about their hopes and fears and ultimately get ready to take on any opposition.
It’s not often you find yourself in theatre donning a swimming cap, taking part in a series of tasks with strangers and by the end running out of the venue to take part in a spontaneous game of polo (albeit on land not water!). Perhaps the lively nature of festival audiences make this more likely but The Time Out is so engaging it is hard to resist. The audience participation handled so subtly that one never feels pressured or embarrassed. This is an early preview performance ahead of a run in Edinburgh but it already seems an accomplished work. Any show that manages to convincingly make its participants forget they are sitting in a tent in the middle of a Suffolk park, not an actual locker room deserves credit and The Time Out is delivered with such conviction and charm that it instantly wins audiences over. This is one show that you can’t help coming out of feeling uplifted and motivated. A dozen strangers enter and come out as a working team – if the show ever runs out of theatres to perform in there is surely a market here for corporate team building.
As the day turns into evening a change of genre and Irish songstress Camille O’Sullivan takes to the stage with her unique brand of rock meets cabaret, the ultimate performer has the capacity audience eating out of her hand, a microphone problem leads to an unplanned acoustic set and a spontaneous audience sing-along. At the end of her hour set, the audience were up on their feet and clamouring for more.
Returning to the theatre tent for the second show of the festival, Theatre503’s Carrot looks at a complex interwoven set of relationships. At his engagement party a slip of the tongue from the groom to be sets off a domino effect that leaves no friend unscathed. Ben Okrent’s play examines the traits that make up our characters and how one seemingly innocent comment can have a major impact. Nadia Latif’s direction is fast paced but at times the exuberance results in some of the dramatic potential being sidelined.
Continuing the party atmosphere, Paines Plough present performance poet Kate Tempest’s new play, Wasted. Tempest’s poetic background is evident in the strong rhythmic cadences of the script. Special commissioned for a festival audience we get to see three friends who have a night on the town to escape their mundane lives. Staged again with intense energy, including an onstage appearance of real life festival goers, it’s the perfect mix of party, music, theatre and festival going.
— Glen Pearce — Follow Glen’s Latitude Tweets on Twitter @glenpearce1
Glen’s website blog: www.glenstheatreblog.com
Glen Pearce is based in Suffolk and his reviews focus on the vibrant arts scene in East Anglia but also cover frequent trips to London and beyond. On average he sees around 150 shows per year, from small scale fringe shows to major West End productions.
Glen trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and has worked as a stage manager, lighting designer, box office, front of house, in theatre management and arts marketing. He has reviewed for the regional newspapers in East Anglia.
In addition to his own blog he also contributes to OneSuffolk, blogs for Arts Professional Magazine, contribute to UpTheWestEnd.com and is also the resident theatre critic for BBC Radio Suffolk’s Drive Time show.
• Pictures: (c) MSethi