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Phantasmagoria 1

This review was originally written for The Public Review.

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/phantasmagoria-battersea-arts-centre-london/

The variety in this show is impressive: an aria about the mishap of a virginal goat and a fish and chip dinner; a balloon popping scene akin to a playful and mischievous version of Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece; a seemingly innocent anecdote about bad breath and ageing with the odd comedic gem camouflaged within it. The show comprises elements of a cabaret performance and a variety show. There are dancers and music, puppetry and a hula hoop act, each with a twist which dissects some particular aspect of the performance such as sexualisation and objectification of the performers or the banality of the act itself. There is a gentle and humorous exploration of feminism while poking fun at sex, celebrity, race and political correctness and even touching on animal welfare. And not forgetting Britney Spears which comes up every now and again. At the very least, this show has scope if nothing else.

The humour is both physical and verbal and occasionally strays into the absurd but it never resorts to cheap laughs. What the show is lacking is better links between scenes and a more concrete thread that joins the show together but there are benefits to the constant surprises that comes with every scene. One particular segment has the performers stating a series of what is right and what is wrong. Most of which is not necessarily definitive one way or the other. This turns into an intriguing discussion of morality which mainly takes place within each audience member’s mind. All the performers did was to make a simple statement about right and wrong.

This experimental piece of theatre from Jesus Paolini Park is developed at the BAC as part of the Celebrating 120 Years programme. It is mature, well realised and executed, featuring excellent and bold performances. It is occasionally thoughtful, sometimes funny but never short of being interesting.

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