Last night I met a Polish guy who speaks fluent Urdu. Never have I been put to shame quite like I was by that Polish dude. The language of my parents that should- in theory- be my mother tongue eludes me. My parents didn’t speak Urdu to us when we were growing up so my brother, sisters and I are all monolingual.
It was the Polish dude’s Australian girlfriend who started talking to me at the press performance of Aftermath at The Old Vic tunnels. Created by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, the show is mostly verbatim testimonies from Iraqi refugees in Jordan. It’s a storytelling event with the harrowing reality that none of this is a mere story. Blank and Jensen have mastered the format for sure. They’ve chosen a clever array of characters, a variety of narratives and have pieced the testimonies together to create an evocative arc of events. You can read the full review on Spoonfed from Monday 12th July.
I wasn’t disappointed with Aftermath but I wasn’t blown away either. The Australian girl on the other hand seemed short changed by the event. She argued it was just another collection of civilian war stories, nothing new. She went on to say that you could change the name of the war and hear much the same. She linked this to the stories she grew up with in Australia from refugees of The Vietnam War and the many Muslim immigrants in Australia. As you’d expect she apologised profusely for sounding offensive and hard-hearted but her opinon was that Aftermath, heart wrenching though it is, offers nothing new. She had a point but I disagreed and there’s more on that in the review.
What else did I see this week? The One-on-One Festival at Battersea Arts Centre was absolutely amazing. There are a few dud pieces though. Don’t waste your time with ‘You, Me, and Nothing’ – that really is nothing. ‘Observation Deck’ is an interesting idea by a New York artist who wanted to allow participants to find a place to truly be themselves and allow them to see a building from a different perspective. It fails. Lying on your back looking up at the sky with your head and shoulders out of a top floor window is not that exhilarating. You see less than you would lying on the ground looking up, it would be a lot more effective if you were lying on your front looking down. But This Is Your Film by Stan’s Cafe is a great (very short) show of clever theatrical forms with a narrative you can make up yourself much like a Choose Your Own Adventure book (remember how fun they were!). There are loads of great little theatre pieces at #1on1, I definitely recommend it.
Also this week, Holly Williams who writes for the Spoonfed London Theatre section and the Independent went to see Not By Bread Alone by Israeli theatre company Nalaga’at and Skye Corewijn had high praise for the circus theatre show The Butler at Pleasance Theatre.