The final event of LIFT 2014 is a weekend of performances and installation centred around the theme of the First World War. There are stories from the period such as Inua Ellams solo work The Long Song Goodbye which is a short, lyrical story about the African involvement in the Great War. The prose not only include important information such as the first and last shot of the war were shot on African soil, the human cost and lack of acknowledgement they received.The narrative also beautifully weaved in the personal tale of Obi Jr. that brings an emotional backbone to the performance. Also telling stories from the war is The Listening Post by Tom Chivers and James Wilkes. It is an immersive sound installation that brings stories of the First World war from around Battersea. It is atmospheric especially through the attic of the BAC but the stories will be more effective if they are trimmed and edited a little.
Bridging the gap between the past and the present is the performance of Whims Of Freedom, produced by Laila Soliman, bringing in stories from Egypt and Syria. It is interspersed with traditional and folk songs that brings a haunting sadness to the stories they tell and linking the recent troubles of the Arab spring to the past.
There are more thoughtful pieces such as Wars During My Lifetime, which is a newspaper by Martin John Callanan listing all wars between 1982-2014 and read aloud by a town crier at various times throughout the day. It is a sobering and thoughtfully simple piece that highlights the number of conflicts and the lack of progress we have made in reducing them.
A more experimental work is a lecture by andcompany&Co’s Sounds Like War integrate speeches, samples of sound and dadaism. It is an oblique analysis of the German language and culture and their links to the war. It is at times interesting and thought provoking but maybe a little too avant-garde. And finally and thematically most distant to the war is Landscape With Skiproadis. It is an highly engaging performance by Pieter de Buysser who tells the story of Zoltan who brings various objects of historical significance to Pieter. The story is over long and abstract but the skill in de Buysser’s storytelling is to be admired.
The day concluded with the Day Turned Sour by Tiger Lilies who turns German and English war poetry into a mix of opera, gypsy song and other styles, taking an alternative approach to the theme.
All these shows in one is quite heavy going especially because of the theme on war. But there are enough quality and gems in there to make it a great showcase for international theatre making.