Thursday, 29 October 2015

Strictly Balti, Travelling Light, The Edge Chorlton, 23rd October 2015

Sid and Saikat, Saikat and Sid. Both begin with an ‘S’, similarities end there. Sid - bog standard Birmingham lad, thick accent, Christmas presents? He got way more than you, he’ll whoop you at computer games too. Saikat doesn’t celebrate Christmas, although he did get a book of Bengali poems this December, and he goes ballroom dancing.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention, Saikat and Sid are the same kid.

Strictly Balti details the true-life trials of actor Saikat Ahamed growing up as a second-generation immigrant in the UK. By day Saikat is ‘Sid’, lives Birmingham, eats Birmingham, sleeps Birmingham. However, stepping through his front door each evening to the flocked wallpaper, curries and traditional writings of his parents’ Bangladesh homeland, Sid evaporates. Welcome home Saikat.

Sound confusing? Well yeah, definitely, I couldn’t help but feel grateful that as a white British ten year old girl my biggest worry was whether to go for blue or green hair mascara. Masterfully infused with the contagious, endearing energy of Ahamed and on-point direction of Sally Cookson, Strictly Balti is a toe-tapping triumph, waltzing between laugh out loud comedy and poignant introspection, foxtrotting through the ubiquitous social and emotional trials of growing up, whilst pulling at the immensely relevant thread of growing up as a second generation immigrant pulled between two ways of life. 4/5

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Review: So Here We Are, Royal Exchange Studio, Royal Exchange & High Tide, 6th October 2015

Four men, black suits, black ties, the mood bleak, the sense of loss evident, a tense silence hanging on the air, broken only when one of them pipes up “well that’s f**ked up the five a side”. From the first line, you know that bog standard isn’t going to be dish of the day. A co-production with High-Tide Festival, So Here We Are tracks the events leading up to a young man’s death and the ripple of its aftermath. Ripple being the key word, no flapping of arms, no histrionics, barely an undry eye, just a liberal dose of crude, laugh out loud lad banter masking emptiness, devastation and preventing anyone from asking what the hell happened to Frankie.

It’s a winning start, but it fails to grab the medals. The sharp dialogue and mystery of the opening scene, a chunky, 30ish minute four hander focussing less on what is said (how fit was the grieving mother/grandmother?) than what no-one wants to say,  is concurrently riotous and intensely moving (although arguably becoming slightly too ‘Inbetweeners’ at some points). The ensuing scenes fail to live up to the blast of this starting gun, descending into a perfectly executed but ultimately clunky, formulaic catalogue of exposition that is saved by a crushing twist and a heartbreaking final scene. 3/5

Review: Golem, 1927, HOME Manchester, 7th October 2015

If you’re one of those people who's ever wondered what would happen if you mixed The League of Gentleman, The Mighty Boosh, Black Mirror and Dr Caligari into a nutty, trippy soup, this is one for you. Hot on the heels of their previous show, which played to sell-out audiences at the National Theatre last summer, 1927 march into HOME with Golem, a simultaneously hilarious and unsettling feat of visual gluttony which will satisfy even the portliest of eyes. A timely revival of the German silent film trilogy, Golem is the story of a clay automaton who gains sentience with devastating results.  
A co-production with Salzburg festival and Theatre de la Ville Paris, Golem’s European inspirations ooze throughout, 1920s German expressionism fuses effortlessly with twists of film noir and Chaplin-style slapstick to articulate a strong polemic on the looming stride of complacency in the ever technological age. In fact the key twist on the tale is Golem’s ubiquity, with the newest upgrade being the must have item, you can’t help but sense the strong whiff of iphones. 1927 are sublime, exuding intelligence, attention to detail and timing so spot on it’s got to be bordering on indecent. 
Their set, all projections, is a show in itself; when combined with the impeccable comic timing of the five sets of feet on stage, Golem is second to none. 5/5