BE friday top

BE Festival – Friday

Birmingham Rep


AS the BE Festival continues, the excitement and appreciation for art is still strong and exciting.

On Friday there was a distinct change in atmosphere due to knowing the outcome of the Britain’s EU Referendum.

A still and dreary silence was around and the festival was opened with its co-directors reading a statement. The programme of tonight fit the mood and political climate perfectly, however it was completely coincidental that these political pieces were performed on such a night.

Power to the People – BE Mix

The evening started with an interesting reaction to politics and democracy in the western world. The company was made of performers from various companies who performed at the BE Festival in 2015 in a collaboration of physical theatre and political art.

Their performance actually began at the start of the week, where at the interval dinner, they ‘campaigned’ to the audience about how they must use their vote once the performance day came.

Our choice was to vote for a show that was either directed by one director or to have a show that was collaborated between five directors. The vote was cast at the start of the performance and we were presented with a piece directed by all. The company also asked if democracy was the best form of government. It as the companies aim to make us see that democracy was not just a negative, but in fact the worse form of leading a country.

The interesting way of making us choose was indeed an interesting concept. The piece started with a celebration of a government winning an election, with a parade of happy smiles, confetti and wine being poured over the stage.

The remainder of the short performance saw how people could easily be convinced and persuaded by a political group. This company challenge us to see how governments are particularly good at manipulating our choices within their favour. Their dark point is that we are not individuals, but simply that our choices can be made to suit the needs of those above.

In Girum Imus Nocte (et consumimur igni) by Aldes (Roberto Castello)

In a physical approach to an apocalyptic world, choreographer Roberto Casello led a group of four dancers to create a picture of the darkness of the end of the world. The auditorium was engulfed in darkness before the performance started and the anticipation for what was about to begin set the audience on edge.

Once the performance started, we were exposed to small windows of light in which the dancers took on a zombie-like characteristic, becoming overtaken by the constant music.


The performance gave an atmosphere of a trance-like state of mind. The music had the same beat and never changed. Stage lights would switch suddenly from a black out to lighting up different scenes as the dancers made a picture of how to survive at the end of the world. There was a constant grey hue and it was easy for the mind to wonder during the drum of the unchanging story.

This was a unique performance where, although the dancers showed great talent, the overall concept seemed unchanging and distant. After ten minutes, the feeling of wanting something different to happen was strong, but everything unfortunately remained the same until the sudden stop when the performance ended.

Merci, Pardon – Cie HappyFace

This duo from France are performance artists like no other. Incorporating circus and dance to make a collaboration of spectacular movement, Cie HappyFace know how to entertain and delight an audience. Merci, Pardon looks at the way in which relationships are made as they show the formation of becoming close to another person.

Cie HappyFace are delightfully humorous within their work. The performance started as one man, totally oblivious to the world around him was found dancing alone inside a spotlight. This was a superb show of talent as his robotic movements and fascinating skill was seen in the slickest of ways. As the second man came along to ask for a cigarette, it was clear that there was hostility. Through the unification of dance, a new bond was instantly made and a new relationship was seen.

The relationship between two people was interpreted through their incredible circus skills. While juggling in tandem, Cie HappyFace was a treat to the eyes of the entire audience. There were incredible sequences that saw batons being passed from one to the other in a beautiful show that did not put a foot wrong.

The audience were incredibly impressed with the high-energy that was excreted by the performers. The audience could not believe their eyes throughout the 20-minute performance. It was a delight to watch, although it felt incredibly short lived, where it would have been easy to watch all over again.

You had to be There – Uncanny Theatre

Uncanny theatre is a fun and lively company from the UK, in which their show talks about the moments that would make sense in the situation, but when retelling the story, it would not be understood to anyone who was not there. In their collaborative approach to creating theatre, they have made a wonderfully organic piece that recalls the ‘had to be there’ moments of life.

Uncanny Theatre are wonderful advocates of playfulness. There entire concept is based on fun and the audience play just as an important part as the three actors. It feels as if they are facilitators of a theatrical party, giving us balloons to burst at the end of the performance and instructions to use flash photography with our phones.

Uncanny use the concept of friendship and small moments to bring out unbelievable comedy moments to bring the audience together. Throughout the performance, they picked out audience, creating scenes and reminding us of the times where we cannot recall unless we were there. Through their fun and playful charm, Uncanny show us how precious life and relationships are.

To say that this clever and collaborative piece was brilliant would be an understatement. I suppose you ‘had to be there’ to understand the genius behind Uncanny Theatre. To 25-06-16.

Elizbeth Halpin


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