The Machine, Barbican (Pit), London — ‘Quirky, fun’

All in all you are just another brick in the wall. The functionality business Collectif and Then (operating with Karkatag Kolektiv) take Pink Floyd’s lyric virtually actually, making their audience members, if not bricks in the wall, cogs in the machine: moving parts in an elaborate physical metaphor about society. It’s ingenious and a lot of fun, if larger on concept than content.

Here interactive theatre meets social experiment. You are “part of the machine”, a disembodied voice informs the audience as they wriggle into white lab coats and security goggles and line up at the door, ready to clock in to the method. As soon as inside they are allotted tasks on an absurd Heath Robinson-like production line: pedalling baroque contraptions to drive conveyor belts running from workstation to workstation piling stuff on to pallets — all in order to fill plastic bags with sand, water or hot air. Each now and then, for no reason, every person is essential to jump. Not so various from the day job, some may reflect darkly.

Interactive theatre meets social experiment in ‘The Machine’ © Richard Davenport

The second operation includes loading mentioned bags on to human machines, 3 of the circus performers behind the show. 1, “the human claw” (Lucie N’Duhirahe), dangles from a beam to collect as several bags of air as achievable a second (Natalie Reckert) holds a handstand and invites workers to suspend bags of water from her upturned body. The third (Francesca Hyde), most disconcertingly, is winched into the air by her hair as workers load sandbags on to a suspended platform.

This is where the show becomes most exciting — and where it requirements to expand. As soon as the audience/employees realise that their work is causing her discomfort, they instinctively pause. Some then start to unload — to revolt against The Machine — despite being warned that their disobedience has been noted. But there is no adhere to-up and no further examination of what occurs when social conditioning and moral imperative come into conflict.

And all round there is a sense that the show could dig deeper. It is an intriguing development on circus, taking the co-operation, physicality and physics of circus into interactive and symbolic territory. It touches on considerable questions about the rat-race, about the role of humans in an increasingly mechanised planet, about endurance and about why we operate. But it hasn’t incorporated a way to discover the concerns a lot more totally. As it stands, it’s quirky and inventive, but, like so several machines, it runs out of steam.

To October 8,

Section: Arts

The Encounter, Barbican, London — ‘A story about storytelling’

Simon McBurney in ‘The Encounter’. Photo: Jane Hobson©Jane Hobson

Simon McBurney in ‘The Encounter’. Photo: Jane Hobson

Acoustic baffling. The phrase describes both the backdrop to the vast Barbican stage for this Complicite production — a pattern of foam wedges to deaden reverberation within a space — and director/performer Simon McBurney’s approach to telling this specific story. The audience don headphones and attend as McBurney performs a stage bare but for a functional table and chair, a handful of dozen mineral water bottles and the wherewithal to generate a range of soundscapes.

McBurney wears a head microphone there are a quantity of ambient mics, and a binaural set-up shaped like a human head to generate the type of stereo surround panorama we naturally perceive. One of two directional mics at the table is set to fluke McBurney’s tenor speaking voice down to become that of his protagonist, American photojournalist Loren McIntyre. McBurney uses handheld speakers and looping units to develop the sounds of the Amazon rainforest in which McIntyre made 1st make contact with in the 1970s with a Mayoruna tribe and, reduce off from make contact with with “civilisation”, accompanied them in bewilderment on their quest to return to “the beginning” . . .  of time.

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Recordings from different times — interviews with Petru Popescu (of whose book Amazon Beaming this is an adaptation) and the mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, domestic conversations with McBurney’s young daughter — blend in our ears with the reside performance. For this piece not only retells McIntyre’s story about time, but is itself about storytelling and time, and also about voices. The multi-vocal storytelling of McBurney’s Berlin production of Stefan Zweig’s Beware Of Pity , which I reviewed here a number of weeks ago, now becomes apparent as a kind of limbering-up for this presentation, in which one particular man remains alone on stage for much more than two uninterrupted hours.

Alone on stage, but not in our perception. The Encounter is not in contrast to one particular of Katie Mitchell’s dramatic deconstructions, except that the artificial composition builds up not just before our eyes but among our ears and that, in a Complicite keynote, the method is in no way allowed to overshadow the material. This account of the lessons and wonders that a technology-totally free Brazilian men and women might have to teach us is conveyed by utilizing modern technologies to create a palpable impression of these wonders.

To March 6,

‘The Encounter’ will be offered as a live stream direct from the Barbican on on Tuesday March 1, at 7.30pm. For a full appreciation, please put on headphones:

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Section: Arts

Marcus Miller, Barbican, London: ‘Ecstatic peaks’

Marcus Miller on stage at the Barbican. Photo: Roger Thomas©Roger Thomas

Marcus Miller on stage at the Barbican. Photo: Roger Thomas

It is practically a year considering that bass guitarist Marcus Miller premiered his Afrodeezia album at the 2014 London Jazz Festival. That performance thrilled by injecting raw jazz power and virtuoso expertise into a recording project that was as well glossy to get to the heart of its topic matter, the slave route from west Africa to the northern cities of the US.

But right here Miller’s precise bittersweet compositions were delivered by a septet of firebrands who have grown into the music as the music has grown. Provided free rein, and buoyed by the substantial foundations of Miller’s bass guitar, they gave every single piece a life of its personal, honing Miller’s themes into a framework for a jazz-infused celebration of human transcendence.

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As on the album, Miller started in the homelands of west Africa with the accurately titled “Hylife” and the contemplative, kora-inflected “B’s River”. Detroit was flagged up by Motown’s “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and the finale referenced the Caribbean with the calypso-based “Son of Macbeth”.

Saxophonist Alex Han has long been Miller’s crowd-raiser-in-chief, and tonight he was on fire. But others have been his equal. Trumpeter Marquis Hill and wah-wah pedal guitarist Adam Agati matched him for jagged fluency while pianist Brett Williams was percussively inventive. Orchestrated from within by Miller, the emotional peaks at instances reached the ecstatic.

But the masterstroke was getting fellow Miles Davis alumnus Mino Cinelu on percussion Davis was given a nod by the inclusion of his composition “Jean Pierre”. Cinelu embellished texture, added depth to the occasional Miller vocal and dazzled with a show of virtuosity — “I bet you didn’t know you could do all that with a triangle,” mentioned Miller.

The only ballad, Miller’s bass clarinet function “Goreé”, inspired by his check out to a Senegal slavehouse, was introduced by sampled orchestral strings. It flowed into lively Han soprano sax, and only 3 final doom-laden notes from Miller’s fretless bass signalled the composition’s origins.

The evening ended with a 3-quantity encore that embedded Miles Davis’s “Tutu” into two tunes from Miller’s back catalogue. It concluded with a 1st outing for the leader’s bone-crunching slap-bass guitar, and drew an even higher ovation than the higher-octane finale.

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Section: Arts