It is now the half way point in the festival. Since the theme is time this year, it is a good idea to reflect and truly take in all we are seeing over these five days.
The prospect of seeing the marvellous Texan born performer Greg Wohead again in Cardiff is never an opportunity to miss. Here his Call It A Day was a sprawling 14 hour work. Inspired by a meeting with an Amish couple a few years ago, here the work ties within it the duality of these two very different cultures, along with another form of the double, with two American performers and two British. I am so mad I did not get the chance to stay and see a few hours (I had two brief visits within the day) and can only hope its done again soon (though I won’t hold my breath).
Taking place within the rarely utilised Peiolt space in Chapter, Call It A Day has a few chairs for an ever-changing audience in an intimate room. Sound work from Ben Babbitt is around us, never taking over from the action in a showy way. Greg has formulated reenactments of his talks and the shows goes into a typical meta territory we usually get. The other performers might play him and these Brechtian elements can fade in and out. From what I saw, Amelia Stubberfield treated us to an impromptu karaoke session, taking advice on vocals and actions. Tim Bromage and Amelia, along with Greg at one point represent three element’s of one characters psyche. Their conversation with Mireya Lucio borders a David Lynch film, as the uneasy tension of the scene is ever-present.
In this conversation there is talk of a table made by hand and other polite banalities. The show is perhaps best personified in the asked question “What’s the most offensive thing you could ask us?”, this being addressed to the Amish figure. The response was “Have you seen the film Witness?”. The second visit was the wind down period, as the show was coming to an end after a long day. Here all four were more introspective talking about health, eating habits and talk of the ideal of love (Greg’s remarks here were incredibly heartfelt). I sadly had to leave for the next show which was starting and would have loved to have stayed for more Noah Baumbach convo. A fascinating look at another world, with mighty endurance skills.
Our late afternoon show would be a curiosity all of its own. Freya Dooley and Cinzia Mutigli gave us BEING SHARON, a ramshackle lecture on British soap operas. I must admit, I have always had a half-hearted like for soaps (though Mexican soaps are my guilty pleasure now) and I don’t feel that they really add anything to today’s TV landscape. I do recall often characters mention here and there, the nostalgia within the show is overbearing at times. I too, noticed how little EastEnders used Tracy the barmaid as a regular character, since her tenure in the show exceeds any other female character. It only made me realise why I do not like them in the first place. There are some funny bits and that is when they both poke fun at the absurdity of soap stories, with themes of incest, murder, betrayal and even coming back from the dead. There are some interesting insights from both artists, though this work will need to be vigorously polished for future consideration.
The entire festival has been based around by the work of local artist Rhodri Davies and his Transversal Time. This piece has the inspiration of time and the varying perceptions of time (the programme lists Standard Time, Decimal Time, and Hex Time). His admiration for his family’s grandfather clock is another influence, since both his father and grandfather had clock making professions. Tranversal Time uses a very odd choice of instruments, though it is in the vein of Webern and Morton Feldman. The sparseness never lets up here and the lighting undulates over the musicians like something our of noir film of long ago. Pia Palme on the huge contrabass reorder, is the back bone of the live instruments playing mostly non stop with booming, juttering billowing textures.
Sofia Jernberg gave vocals, a solo of screechy, skin-crawling throat exercises, that was the middle part of the show. Rhodri himself was on his instrument of choice (never seen a double bass bow on a harp before) and electronics. What beautiful sight it was to see the three artists in the back ground doing the digital parts of the show, as the lighting lingered over their faces, for brief moments of living chiaroscuro. Whilst the music should really put you in another realm, I felt not quite on that journey. Though this certainly was impressive, all the same.
Who know’s what the fourth day will hold…
Experimentica continues at Chapter Arts Centre till 15th April 2018.