20th June, 2013 - Ongoing | 'Temple Studios' 31 London Street
Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man builds on the company’s reputation for brilliantly detailed large scale installation / site-intervention performances. The installation work is incredible, and worth seeing regardless of what the performers do with it.
The audience are given masks and immersed in a movie studio world of almost-American performers, fulfilling the expected tropes of the genre. It is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and one that most of the audience seems accustomed to, rushing around after the performers, the more Punchdrunk-savvy crowding around and taking every opportunity to attempt to interact with them. This begins to grate after a while, and I found it a more rewarding experience to give up on trying to follow the performers (or the plot such as there is), and explore the installation work away from the crowds.
July 2013 | Peiraios 260, Building H, Athens
In spite of everything I can’t help but feel a lot of sympathy for the director of this performance. She has clearly tried to do something irreverent and clever with the text of Iphigenia in Aulis, and it even gets a few laughs from the Greek audience. She is let down by poor execution, and a failure to commit properly to changing the genre. Some moments that could have been great farce are thrown away by the poor timing of the actors, and the unease with which the long sections of text fit to what should be a fast paced physical comedy. Sadly the gags are laboured and come almost like irrelevant additions to the action of their speech. It’s as though they’ve dragged as much humour as possible from the text but then got lazy with the long sections that didn’t easily match their interpretation.
June, 2013 | The Benaki Museum, Athens
Sophocles’ Antigone at the Benaki Museum, directed by Natassa Triantafylli and part of the Athens festival was performed in a very promising space – the museum’s central courtyard. Seating was provided by the local tennis club (presumably), but the other architectural elements were richly complex and allowed for a lot of intricate spatial relationships.
Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end. I am told that the actors participating were well-known and even award-winning in Greece. Perhaps their physical ineptitude and awkwardness is usually masked by the audience’s concentration on the text, but unfortunately while I know the text extremely well, my not being Greek made me concentrate on other elements more. Perhaps they are film actors. I have seen amateur Shakespeare perpetrated in the UK with far less shuffling of feet and vague wandering around.
Saturday 28th July | Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa, Palermo
ACTIONCONSTRAINT II, by Andrea Cusumano and Thibault Delferiere, was performed in the Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa in Palermo. The piece is an action painting that takes the form of a contest between the two performers – who are both accomplished painters and artists in their own right – in which their physical struggle creates the central artwork.
The performance involved action painting, and is a progression from previous work that Thibault and Andrea have been doing together – there was a version of it performed outside the Library at Goldsmiths in London before – though this was a very different piece in many ways.
12-13th July 2013 | Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, Greece
Dionysis Savvopoulos is a famous composer and lyricist in Greece, popular in the late sixties but still apparently popular enough to be able to make his ‘directing’ debut in the ancient theatre of Epidaurus.
The play is Aristophanes’ usually less popular Plutus, although in Greece’s current political climate it seems an obvious choice. Plutus, the god of wealth, was blinded by Zeus to prevent him from giving wealth to people who actually deserve it. Chremylos, an Athenian, plans to cure him so that the virtuous (such as himself) will instead become rich. The goddess of poverty tries to persuade him that this is a bad idea, since the economy will no longer function – there would be no slaves, and nobody would work hard and create luxury goods. Chremylos gets Plutus’ eyesight restored at the temple of Asclepius (which is actually next to Epidaurus), and the world is turned upside-down. A series of characters come to Chremylos’ household, the nouveaux riches and the recently impoverished bankers. Eventually Hermes turns up to complain that people no longer sacrifice to the Olympian gods, and humbly asks if he can work as a servant.