Friday, 22 June 2012


Last month’s festival of contemporary theatre, Mayfest took ten months to organise and was over in as many days. Described by its creaters as adventurous theatre for playful people, below is an overview of some of the shows featured in this year’s festival.

In The Con Artist by composer John Moran, the audience was invited into a dreamlike, stop-start sound world comprising snippets of interactions between Moran and people he encountered during a visit to Amsterdam. Moran’s ghostly embodiment of these characters, enhanced by his lip-syncing to pre-recorded conversations with them, was eerie and thrilling to watch.

Belarus Free Theatre’s Minsk 2011 was a visceral and heart-wrenching series of true-story snapshots of the city of Minsk and its citizens, set against a backdrop of politics and questions around sexual identity. The company, who are banned in Belarus, work with extremely limited resources but managed, nonetheless, to create a world bursting with urgency and vivid images. A striking and vital piece of theatre.

Crunch by Gary McNair was a tongue-in-cheek life coaching session which sought to challenge our relationship with money. The somewhat cagey audience was won over by the charming McNair, whose energy was liberating and fun and the show struck a pleasing balance between escapist entertainment and a more cerebral discussion about the philosophy of currency.

The weird world that was Episode was extraordinarily atmospheric, owing, in large part to the exquisite lighting design and haunting live soundtrack. A dance piece made up of six, ten-minute episodes, the audience was taken on a strange journey that ranged from unspeakable beauty to terrifying explosions of darkness. Frauke Requardt’s choreography boasted her panoramic skill; the dances tense, then airy, then full of rage, then tender and funny.

The Articulate Hand by performer, director and hand model Andrew Dawson was a delicate and unassuming performance lecture based on disabilities of the hands. Using light, audio, video and dance, Dawson created a moving and sensitive story about people whose lives had been dramatically changed by their hands giving up on them. 

Seven Day Drunk saw a glitter chucking, Casio keyboard playing, life-story telling Bryony Kimmings hurl herself through the true tale of her seven-day experiment to test the hypothesis that alcohol makes an artist more creative. It could have been an entirely narcissistic performance but it was saved by Kimmings’s self-deprecating manner and an unbearably poignant dance with a bottle of beer.

Mayfest brings together local, national and international theatre makers and uses a variety of theatre and non-theatre venues across the city. It attracts brave, risk-taking artists and the result is always a rich mixture of beauty, excitement and a great deal of fun. More please.

As printed in Crack Magazine

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