Saturday 28th September 2013 at Heads Up Festival at Trinity Church - Cruel Theatre Leaves Critic Traumatised By Michelle Dee
How had this happened? All eyes on me. Me, casting my eyes about wildly, looking for the great big hole to swallow me up. Immediately I'm transported back,
more years than I care to mention, to the school play.
There I am in my jester's costume, tumbling around the good-looking lead playing the King, and my nerves get the better of me and with each
jolly bell rattle, there's another, slightly less savoury noise... I'm a big fan of immersive theatre,
I'm never happier than when there is some kind of individual or audience interaction.
Gym Party, by theatre company Made in China depends entirely on the audience. It is a game, it is a competition, and as the three combatants,
Chris, Jess and Ira explode on to the stage with a warm-up dance routine, the audience are drawn in to the game. Each has a different trait
(real or not) and back story (real or not) that is central to their character.
During the performance/ordeal they will use these to gain
allegiances with the audience. Making a strong connection with audience members will serve them well because they all seek approval and
need votes in order to ensure victory. Jess and Chris are equally determined, if not more so, and they will do anything and everything to win.
I was told I'd enjoy Gym Party and if I'd only have sat back and not tried to join in, my memories of it would not be scarred by that sinking feeling.
Putting aside my own fears for a moment, Gym Party is a fresh piece of theatre; pacey, startling and visceral.
It plays around with ideas of celebrity competition, peer pressure and the reasons behind the choices we make.
It's not all serious and introspective, there are laugh out loud moments, contrasting with the dark exploration of human nature and our desire to compete.
As the competition gets fiercer, stinging dialogue and more pointed accusations seek to undermine theirs and your will.
You find yourself being swayed by argument and counter-argument.
The bright sheen stripped away to reveal the barbed nature of political machination underneath as the three fracture and splinter
with the growing intensity on stage.
With a bit of digging we find that Chris, Jess and Ira are the actual names of the members of the Gym Party players, so the fact that the
three performers are playing themselves, or versions thereof, adds another confusing layer of realism.
A show of Gym Party's calibre playing in Hull is testament to the partnership being developed by Ensemble 52 and Battersea Arts Centre.
The ticket price was heavily subsidised, so for the second time this month, audience members came away saying,
'I can't believe it was just a fiver': incidentally, the notion of 'getting more bang for your buck' was raised during the show.
The previous time being after the mesmerising Paper Cinema's Odyssey, the other BAC touring work showing at Heads Up Festival.
The location, the historic Holy Trinity Church sold out for a second night and worked well as a theatre space; it got suitably darker as the show went on.
There was something rather daring about seeing such an irreverent raucous show in such a sanctified place.
Reviews, Arts Hull Dance Prize 2013 - Big Hit with Audience at Hull Truck Studio Theatre - Thursday 3rd October 2013 By Michelle Dee
Hull Dance Prize 2013, organised by Hull Dance, saw six Contemporary Dance performers/companies battling it out in the
Studio Theatre at Hull Truck, to a capacity crowd.
Hosted by the jovial 'he gets everywhere' David Burns from the popular BBC Radio Humberside programme, The Burnsy Show.
The winners would be decided by an expert panel of judges and receive a cheque for £1,500.
Reviews, Art Trinity Church Showcases Hull Poetry at Heads Up Festival - Saturday 28th September 2013 By Michelle Dee.
They've performed everywhere from the Boathouse to the Hotel Tower Ballroom (maybe not, that was Jake and Elwood), five have taken part in the Edinburgh Fringe, and between them they have amassed seven published works, in a relatively short space of time.
Reviews, Art So You Wanna be a Crime Writer? at Heads Up Festival - Saturday 28th September 2013 at The Other Space By Michelle Dee.
Michelle Dee enters the grisly world of crime fiction, a place where a black inkwell resides at the heart of every writer, and attempts to piece together, from the thoughts expressed by a select gathering of authors, a rough guide to crime writing
Reviews, Theatre City Sketch Heralds a New Dawn for Storytelling in Hull - At The Other Space, Hull By Michelle Dee
City Sketch is a site-specific theatre work that takes place inside The Other Space, a
converted office block at No 94 Alfred Gelder Street in Hull city centre. Unusual theatre, immersive theatre,
interactive theatre is making all the traditional theatre practitioners sit up and take notice.
Just as audiences want to interact with news and entertainment online, so they want to be part of the story in theatre.
Reviews, Art Breakthrough for Community Art in Hull By Michelle Dee.
It does feel like something of a breakthrough; Community artists gaining recognition through having work displayed in the
same way countless established artists have before them. I am of course talking about Hull Art Top 20 Exhibition,
showing at Art Link on Princes Avenue until 24th August 2013.
Reviews, Art Rhythm is a Danza! By Dark Clerk Photos by Philip Rhodes.
I'm shouting in a gallery, I'm shouting in a gallery, just one of the many taboos that dancer/performer Ellen Turner broke at Danza! in Hull. Ellen delivered an outrageous finale, to a rip-roaring third annual Danza! the Contemporary Dance event this year gravitating from Fruit to the Live Art Space at Ferens Gallery. Whereas live music in the city and theatre is enjoying a popular resurgence, dance is still under-represented in the city.
Reviews, Books - Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts Reviewed by Helen Mort
Mike Watts' second collection is darker than his debut, dealing with relationships, sex, debts and the difficulty of chasing your dreams while still making ends meet.
But despite the gravity and grit of the subject matter, the poems always have a kind of exuberance to them, and energy that's almost infectious.
Reviews, Theatre Michael Black's New Play Pride Debuts at Adelphi - Tuesday 18th June 2013 By Michelle Dee
'No-one will love you - you will be alone forever'
The new play Pride by Michael Black conjures up images of the barbaric treatment of homosexuality in the latter half of the 20th Century; a play that explores issues of societal division, segregation and rejection which are as relevant today as they were then.
It is appalling to think that from 1950 and then for the next three decades, Behavioural Aversion Therapy was being administered to homosexuals in NHS hospitals across the country.
Reviews, Books - Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts Reviewed by Terry Ireland
Just spent an hour dipping in and out Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts. Always did like his style - no words wasted, tight and sparse. Controversial at times but always readable.
Really enjoyed. Another good 'un Mike.
Looking forward to hearing some of them performed. Mike is a superb performance poet that I have had the privilege of working with and attending his work shops. I can hear his voice in every poem.
Reviews, Books - Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts Reviewed by Michelle Dee
Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory crashes through life in quick-fire stanzas that whack the unsuspecting reader over the head.
This, his second anthology available now at Waterstones Hull, sees the popular writer flexing muscles, girding loins, easing into the
self-made role of Hull street poet.
The poems are accessible, something you can pick up during a cigarette break and immediately share in a sense of solidarity.
You and he versus the rest of 'em.
Reviews, Theatre Adelphi Club Stages Theatre Double Bill By Michelle Dee
Crisis can strike at any time as the television is so fond of telling us.
It can take many different forms but the important thing is how you respond. Do you have the tools in the locker to manage the crisis to recover; to survive?
Joanna Morris' A Delicate Man explores the unknowable quantity that is human nature.
What is an all too familiar set of circumstances: a family torn apart
Reviews, Art Book Launch - Swear Down by Russ Litten at Pave - Wednesday April 10th 2013 By Michelle Dee.
If it is possible for poetry to rock a room, then on Wednesday Joe and Mike did just that.
It was author Russ Litten's book launch and a crowd of authors, poets, theatre-makers, movers and shakers from the Arts scene in Hull
including local press and radio, all gathered to celebrate the release of Swear Down, Litten's second novel,
but his first foray into crime-writing. The night was held at the popular drinking emporium,
Reviews, Theatre Phantom of the Opera at St. Mary's College, Tuesday 12th March 2013 By Michelle Dee
It has been years since I saw a school production. I remember my own performances as an overfed urchin, an unfunny jester and as a witch-doctor, with a mixture of nostalgic pride laced with pangs of sheer terror.
A friend's two daughters were in tonight's show, so I took my seat in the school hall dutifully: poised to cheer and applaud in all the right places.