Review: Bert and Nasi’s The End at HOME Mcr

So near yet so far. Live theatre disappeared then little by little started to tease us with a return this autumn, albeit with challenges and reduced audiences, and mask-wearing and…you don’t need me to tell you.

Well lockdown 2.0 came and it was a return to live-stream theatre and to be honest, with the right show, captivation, and strong-hold on you, this isn’t as remote a concept as you might imagine. It’s not the same as your nightly Netflix fix, especially when it’s a theatre you’ve oft-visited. You’re almost there. I mean you’re not, but you could reach in and touch the stage, feel ready to do the awkward half stand as people pass by to get to their seat, taste the red wine consumed in the bar beforehand.

I felt at HOME last night as I streamed from home The End, the first time that audiences have been able to see the show since it premiered at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

I will now heavily par-quote the press release as with all the synonym support in the world, I can’t sum it up better.

Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas dance the end of their relationship, imagining what a future without each other might look like. Above the stage and projected onto a screen, two parallel narratives run alongside each other: the end of the Earth and the end of their collaboration. In the vein of their previous work, it is a poignant, sad and funny account of the ongoing ecological crisis.

And it actually is.

I don’t sit and make notes during a performance, be it theatre, film, dance, art, talk, dinner even. I don’t want a chufty badge or to criticise those who do. Indeed the point is that I’m not a critic, but there to experience, enjoy, feel. In fact the only analysis that goes on is that of why I feel what I feel afterwards, for this here blog.

If a piece of art or indeed encounter or experience makes you feel anything, it’s a huge tick in the box. If it’s a feeling of enjoyment on some level, the tick is even bigger.

This show will make you feel.

We’re introduced stat by projected (in every way) stat to a sense that we’re a teeny, tiny part of history. Even though this year holds some significance in certainly the history of the 21st century, thousands of years, millions of years, trillions of years, everything we know (and haven’t yet come to know) will be gone. Including James Corden. But here we are.

Once you’ve been brought back to the now, Bert and Nasi dance their way through a further projection of their own future lives and indeed relationship as friends. As they skip, leap, roll, balance (you can almost hear your mum saying ‘you’ll fall and crack your head open’ during this bit), and canter (it really felt like a canter), I tell you, the rhythm is gonna get you.

Juxtaposed with a narrative on the screen behind of lives not yet lived, and with delicious detail of the seemingly ordinary observations that are the fabric of our encounters (we’re told Bert’s funeral is held in a place where the staff weren’t particularly friendly), it all makes sense in the moment. And is incredibly moving (and at times funny too).

With so much time on our hands (relatively) and a sense of that time being wasted at the moment, there is too much opportunity (and not enough distraction) for thinking of our lives in finite terms (alright Laura, calm down, it’s Friday). But this 45 minute show reminds us of both how fragile life is (sad), but also how we’re not quite at the centre of the universe too. And how that’s a good thing.

Also it was bloody good and you should live stream the experience either tonight, Friday 13 November, or tomorrow, Saturday 14 November – at 7.30pm.

Details of the pay-what-you-decide tickets, (including free), can be found at https://homemcr.org/production/the-end/

The show is commissioned by The Place and Warwick Arts Centre

A collaboration with Laura Dannequin

Further details of the artists:

  • Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas are two performance makers that have been working together since 2015.
  • Creating work in an age of austerity and about austerity their work is stripped right back and sits somewhere between live art and theatre, but if you held them against a wall they would probably say it’s theatre.
  • Together they first created the trilogy EUROHOUSE, PALMYRA and ONE which explored power dynamics and political themes on a micro, human level, and complex political and social questions – Greece’s relationship with the EU; the Syrian crisis; the rise of the ultra right – in an accessible, immediate form. Using humour and the dynamics of their onstage relationship, Bert and Nasi undercut and explore the darker aspects of contemporary subjects in work that questions both their own – and the audience’s – role as ‘active’ spectators in global conflicts.

www.bertandnasi.com

FilmFear festival returns to Manchester – tickets now on sale

It’s back. FilmFear returns to HOME this Hallowe’en and this year, slightly beyond, with an extended programme of chills, thrills and downright blood spills.

Running from Wednesday 28 October to Thursday 5 November, Film4 and HOME have co-curated a line-up (coined Scream Now, Think Later) of modern genre classics that sink their teeth into politics, race, sexuality, social issues and more. But most of all scare the pants off you (put them back on though please, nobody needs that – we’ve enough going on).

Included in the fright fest (oh come on, it was only a matter of time before I used the alliterative scary mainstay of ‘fright fest’ – 3rd paragraph, not bad), this year is:

Wes Craven’s The People Under The Stairs, a savage slice of Regan-era urban gothic (oh yes) and Philip Kaufman’s 1978 sci-fi thriller, the classic Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, starring Donald Sutherland and legend in his own lifetime, Jeff Goldblum.

Parasite Oscar winner, Bong Joon-Ho brings The Host, an aquatic creature feature (I love that phrase, wish it was mine), and there’s a London Underground creature feature (not quite the same ring to it) from the 1972 film Death Line, starring Donald Pleasence and Christopher Lee. And you thought you had it bad having to wear a mask on the Metro.

Whilst the remake should have hit cinemas this month (you’ve gone too far this time Covid), the classic Candyman, will be playing, all restored, pretty and downright polished.

The programme also crosses over with HOME’s Viva! Spanish and Latin American Festival with a celebration of Spanish horror maestro, Chico, including a double bill of El asfalto and La Residencia.

Tickets and full details of FilmFear 2020: Scream Now, Think Later can be found here.

Interested in FilmFears gone by? Check out my reviews and write-ups below:

https://honorarymancblog.com/2018/10/22/home-its-where-the-filmfear-is/

https://honorarymancblog.com/2018/10/28/mandy-home-mcr-as-part-of-filmfear/

https://honorarymancblog.com/2019/09/10/filmfear-and-chills-film-festival-returns-to-home-mcr-this-halloween/

https://honorarymancblog.com/2019/11/03/filmfear-at-home-mcr-the-reviews/

An Escape to Freight Island for Headstock opener

It feels like there’s precious little to look forward to or enjoy at the moment (yes Debbie Downer at your service), but much of what we have had to look forward to in Greater Manchester has been courtesy of the brilliant platform United We Stream.

And so, this Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 October, Headstock Weekender storms into our lives with a two day programme, marking World Mental Health Day (Saturday 10 October).

The event will feature two days of live music, including the likes of UK chart-topping rock band Nothing But Thieves along-side some of Greater Manchester’s most exciting bands including Larkins and The Slow Readers Club.

There are also exclusive talks, and immersive wellbeing experiences. Anyone can access the event for free, with donations encouraged to raise much needed funds for Headstock’s charity partners Help Musicians and Manchester Mind, as well as raising awareness for text support service Shout 85258.

Additionally a cracking night of comedy will be streamed, curated by Nodding Dog Comedy, as recorded at Escape to Freight Island on Tuesday night, which is where I found myself – and readers, never has a night out felt more escapey.

Escape to Freight Island near Manchester Piccadilly, is Manchester’s brand new open air entertainment space at Mayfield Depot. Due to its alfresco set-up, the venue is certainly as near perfect for socialising as dammit. Cue being able to see two friends outside (as permitted) not only safely, but comfortably. And happily!

Out in the open air, there’s a myriad of different seating areas and bars; picnic benches, booths, all canopied and covered where one can happily recline and watch the torrential rain come down from our wonderful Manchester skies. Masks adorned once you leave your seat, there is sanitiser aplenty, a one way system for the many loos and basins, and what I deem to be one of the few good things to come out of this whole sorry mess – an app ordering system for food and drink.

Speaking of which, behold the largest pizza known to mankind from Voodoo Ray’s (and bloody good to boot). We really are blessed with great pizza in this fair city we call Manchester.

An old freight depot, the place has a real festival feel (again – in a non-crowded non-covidy way) and along with the theatrical lighting around the venue, non-moreso than the showstopper installation in the middle, there’s a sense that you’re not only there for the food and drink, but a real event of which hopefully will become realised sooner rather than later as live performance fully returns.

There’s still much to open up at Escape to Freight Island but for now, this, the first stage (called Platform 15 – get it?) shows a little light at the end of the tunnel for somewhere to relax, meet friends (groups of 6 people, groups of 6) and remember what it was like to feel a little normal.

And to Tuesday night, and the jokes, ‘lols’ and ‘bantz’ were free-flowing, sharp, witty and top drawer. And that was just our booth (oh how you laugh).

Nodding Dog Comedy brought us two hours of stand up comedy from the likes of Brennan Reece (Live at the Apollo), Mike Newall (BGT – no not the acclaimed 90s Blackburn Rovers player, you sillies – don’t tell anyone but he was my favourite. The comedian, not the footballer. Maybe both), Bexie Archer, Isma Almas and Vince Atta. Freddy Quinne, Lindsey Davies, Phil Chapman, Matt Stellingwerf and Hayley Ellis.

There’s always that fear that you’re going to be ridiculed, picked on, flogged, hung drawn and quartered when you attend a live comedy gig. Well, you lucky people, as you’ll get to see this two hours of comedy online this Saturday night from the comfort of your own homes, you’re safe from the spotlight.

Freddie Quinne

In fact from my well positioned booth at the back at ‘Island (yes, this is what we’re calling it now, deal), I too was safe from torture to listen and laugh along as I negotiated a pizza box that was too big for the table.

For the full programme of events during the Headstock Weekender which culminates Sunday night with a four-hour party from seminal night club series The Warehouse Project, click here.

Viewers can tune in to the event for free on United We Stream HERE.

Festivalgoers are encouraged to buy a virtual ticket for the event or donate an amount they can afford HERE.  Alternatively viewers can donate £5 by texting HEADSTOCKLIVE to 70085. All proceeds from the event will go to Headstock’s charity partners Help Musicians and Manchester Mind.

Donations will help support vital emotional and practical services for young people and musicians.