Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Barricade [BRIGHTON FESTIVAL 2012]

BIZARRE AND INCOMPREHENSIBLE 
ACROBATIC PERFORMANCE
FILLED WITH CRAZY STUNTS, 
MADCAP HUMOUR AND SOME 
INVENTIVE USES OF STAGING.

Image sourced from http://brightonfestival.org/event/584/barricade/
What's It All About Then?

Free dramatic performance held on Saturday 5th May at Hove Park as part of the Brighton Festival 2012. Barricade was created by NoFit State - a company that has performed in previous years at the Brighton Festival.


Description by the creators: "Two trucks block Hove Park. They disgorge their contents, creating an obstacle to normal paths and daily routines. Suddenly, the wind is rising. People are constructing defences to protect themselves from the storm. They hurry to bring tyres, ladders and other objects in impossible volumes. The barricade they build, a spectacular aerial playground, sets the scene for a maelstrom of breathtaking circus. Barricade invokes a glorious spirit of resistance to empower its people to fight for freedom. A freedom from their own fear, doubt and suspicion".



The stage used in Barricade was awesome in its own right.

So Is It Any Good?
+++ Big Thrills and Skills +++
The show was full of huge set pieces, with the entire stage turned into a giant playground for these very talented performers. They used the main floor, the wings, the rigging - and even had room to fit a full band in for musical accompaniment! 


The action that took place was jaw-dropping - seeing the performers lifted into the air on ladders that are hoisted and lowered in alarmingly swift movements (see very bad picture - right). Later on, there was a terrifying trapeze section that included stunts which seemed virtually impossible - and ended up requiring the safety rope to keep the artist from falling to the floor! Fair play to that woman though, she got straight back into it and tried again - this time pulling off a violent swinging spin while raised 20 feet into the air.


It was clear that these were top-quality performers showing off some of the more creative uses of their talents - the whole show was a whirlwind of jumps, spins and flips - all showcasing some of the finest circus skills that Brighton has seen.


+++ Variety Show +++
Small segments of the show diverted our attention to specific areas - the section badly photographed here involved a guy stuck on a perch above the stage with another performer coaxing him down. Every time he jumped down though, he would land on a trampoline and bounce straight back up! The guy down below then joined in, so the two were leaping between perch and stage in all sorts of acrobatic fashions. It was some nice light relief to the tense,  large-scale action in other parts of the show.


Then there was a middle "fight" scene that involved use of pyrotechnics - including flame staffs twirling through the night and bursts of flame shot into the air. This sensational spectacle lit up the entire park, leading to many "oohs" and "aahs" from the audience. The majority, myself included, were captivated by the brilliant visual drama that unfolded - I don't think my eyes turned from the stage once during the hour-long set.

--- Hard To Follow ---
The main problem I found with the show was the "story". There seemed to be a tale about an authoritarian regime and  people rising up against it - but that was guesswork based on costumes really. The dialogue consisted of some guys with European accents shouting "We must fight!" before cartwheeling across the stage in crazed fashion.


Other sections had a multitude of performers talking about being "sorry for their sins" - with one woman seemingly repeating this in French. I wasn't quite sure why they were doing this and it was quite bewildering for everyone watching - all of the conversations I overheard on the way out of the Park generally went "That was good! No idea what was going on!". "Yep, same here. Looked great but was very confusing".


So the hard-to-understand story detract from the fantastic action being shown - it's just that no-one knew what it was all about. A small issue with a dazzling performance.


Conclusions
This show was very impressive -
each of the performers was showing off spectacular skills throughout.


The variety in scale and mood for the action was good to see - quiet, humorous sections broke up the big action.


If only I knew what the show was all about!
Looking forward to next year's production.

Feel free to post comments or contributions to improve the experience!
All images in this review are taken by Brighton Games Trader (except otherwise stated).

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