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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Devil's Festival at The Print Room

After a successful first year The Print Room present to you The Devil's Festival, an eclectic mix of dance, music, theatre and art projects. This two week summer bonanza brings together all aspects of the creative world in some exciting contemporary pieces, celebrating the inspiring new work of talented young artists, choreographers, and performers. I went along to the final invited dress rehearsal to check it out before anyone else.

It was pouring with rain, and visitors to the Print Room were huddled in their tiny foyer pleased to be somewhere dry. First up in the rehearsal was the dance piece, 'Kanaval' choreographed by Hubert Essakow. The routine is inspired by the photographs of Leah Gordon and the film The Devine Horsemen, some of which are on display elsewhere in The Print Room vicinity. It is performed by Benny Maslov, Benjamin Ord, Hannah Rudd and Fukiko Takase and is the longest of the four featured festival pieces. There is something instantly aggressive about the movement and gestures we are watching, the dancers are almost animalistic. It is striking and in some places quite harrowing to watch such force, but I found it moving and gripping, and was hugely impressed with the dancers' unfaltering stamina.

The next two plays were'Swan Song' by Anton Chekhov and 'Fewer Emergencies' by Martin Crimp. The Chekhov piece is only 18 minutes long, and the playwright claimed to have written it in just one hour and five minutes. The play shows a brief encounter with aging actor, Svetlovidov and is pretty much a monologue, an afterthought of his life in the theatre and his love of the stage. Malcolm Rennie gives a stunning performance as Svetlovidov, nuanced and believable and carefully thought through. Despite its brief length it felt like we were being given a real insight into this characters life.

The second dramatic piece is a short play from trendy and fiercely modern playwright Martin Crimp. Don't expect to understand it, I couldn't, we listen to bursts of conversation excerpts that are entirely abstract and bizarre. The acting here is impressive too, with particularly convincing performances from the two girls Emma Dallow and Nicola Harrison.

Finally we are treated to Petra Jean Philipson's incredible sound and light installation. While we wait in the foyer a huge white tent is put up in the theatre, filled entirely with white fluffy pillows. We are invited inside, but not until we have slipped into more appropriate outfits: all in one white paper boiler suits complete with hoods and booties! After everyone stopped giggling and got over the novelty of the idea it was quiet and contemplative in the tent. ‘Of the things we do not see’ is an experience that is supposed to heal your body using creative stimuli. Amazing Mongolian singing and music sooths you gently and the vibrations melt peacefully into your body. It is an amazing concept and the 20 minutes of meditation were not enough for me, I soon fell asleep and would have been quite happy to spend the night in this wonderfully calm structure.

The Festival is on now, for two weeks until Saturday 2 July. Only on Saturdays will all four pieces be available to see, on weekday nights the shows will alternate, each pair showing every other night, book here.

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