Peut-Être Theatre, Shh…Bang!

Posted: February 16th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Peut-Être Theatre, Shh…Bang!

Peut-Être Theatre, Shh…Bang!, The Blue Room, Southbank Centre, February 10


Maya Politaki and Anna Woolhouse in Shh…Bang! (photo: Ludovic des Cognets)

Words cannot express quite a lot of feelings, whereas a noise or tone or drone or sound, an accordion falling down a staircase, can somehow capture an emotion much better.” – John Lydon

In this world I am a space invader. Shh…Bang! has been designed not for people like me but for those who are 3+ (a set of people with a different and playful response to visual and auditory stimulation) who demonstrate little fear in sharing their thoughts with fellow theatre goers and provide an uncensored reaction to work whether it engages them or not. Here they are absolutely rapt.

Artistic director Daphna Attias has carefully crafted four colourful quarters where the performers (Maya Politaki and Anna Woolhouse) discover noises, explore what their bodies sound like and encourage gentle interaction with the audience. With several collaborations in the research and creation process (Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Institute of Acoustics and Vibrations in Southampton University), the company has fine-tuned its findings and demonstrates an audience acumen; the visual and aural stimulus from the Shh…Bang! palette is never dull and always surprising. There are swift changes in the choreographic and sonic dynamic, multiple set and prop shifts, a keen awareness of pace and the performers never let a new discovery outstay its welcome.

I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise.” – George Gershwin

Sound adds a different stickiness to memory and ensures that images linger longer; the moments that reverberate most are when unusual noises mesh with movement in scenographic harmony. When Maya bounces on her haunches like a basketball frog to the harmonica or Anna is casting high-pitched invisible spells from a thin, rosin-oiled metal tube, these were moments of pure invention. Like grains of rice ricocheting on a tight drum skin, delivering 45-minute performances (nine across three days) with an infectious curiosity for sound, energy and movement Anna and Maya were a joy to watch.

With a performance that is so entwined with sound and vision, the relationship between technician and dancers has to be sharp as isolated bodily movement triggers farting nose buttons, creaking shoulder locks and other noise eruptions. However, on more than one occasion there is some slight discrepancy between the two, although the more forgiving little eyes in the room didn’t seem to mind.

Just the other day, it seems, the kids were running through the house, slamming doors, breaking glass, making noise. Time goes by so quickly. Sometimes everything seems so fleeting.” – Perry Como

There is a paradox in work made for young people as it has to appeal (through language, imagery and ideology) to adults — the guardians of cultural experience for young people — and they’ll only encounter work that passes their own taste and perceived risk barriers.

In the Shh…Bang! audience you already see the different audience personalities in development, even at 3+: those who having been charmed by the performers are happy to go on stage unaccompanied and will bounce, revel and embrace this personal encounter; those who will not leave the lap of the parents, who tuck their head under arms despite an unthreatening invitation to engage, and those who want to bring their adults on stage and enjoy the environment with them in a communal celebration.

Peut-Être ensure all types of audience are welcome to engage with the performance at a level at which they are comfortable. At the end there is playtime aplenty on stage with feathers, family and an ear-worm of a soundtrack; with so many noises on parade, it feels fitting to finish with something onomatopoeic:

Two fizzing popcorn kernels
Sploshing in a hot puddle
Munching a rainbow orchestra