Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Last night Stu went to see Babel in London's leafy Caledonian Park in Islington. We met up with Oliver and his friend too.

Babel was a theatrical event in situ consisting of 300 actors and performers like no other. An 'immersive theatrical experience' it says here.

In the original Tower of Babel story God confounded mankind by making them speak in different languages for daring to build a tower to the Heavens. The Babel London crew were going to bring us all back together with the mantra "today's the day." It was a lofty ambition.

Upon entering the park we walked around the perimeter through the undergrowth coming across person after person. The odd thing about these people were that they weren't just standing there. They were perched in trees, they were ironing, typing, reading poetry, sleeping, cooking, watching television, vacuuming the grass, you name it. It was very "performance." But not wholy inaffective. As to what it meant - we were hoping to find out. "Today's the day" they said.

After the soujourn in the trees we entered the centre of the park proper where they were various structures - a cafe, a bar, stages, platforms etc.. There were actors, dressed mainly as members of the public, who performed songs, played instruments, danced and told stories. So far so good.

Then after an hour or so the fake 'Big Brother' policemen who had been guarding us, the ladies in white who had been standing around and various other actors all started the show proper. They had been building bamboo houses at the front of the park near the large clock tower. The speakers boomed out "everyone get back, the houses have to be moved." And the people cried out "no". The houses got moved all the same though. Someone got "arrested" for taking a stand and taken into the tower. There was a got of clever projection onto the tower. A bit of absailing up it and down it. The actors booed and hissed their oppressors. He man got rescued. The End.

To call the whole thing amateurish would be a disservice as it was indeed a part amateur production. And being the first night there were a few technical 'pauses' which were perhaps to be expected.

It was an ambitious project - in terms of scale at any rate - and ultimately it failed in it's basic requirement - to be any good. The 'Big Brother' type plot just didn't really work.

It was a bit like a festival with lots of theatre types doing their best to show off. A smaller show, more tightly produced would have worked better for me I think. Oh well. Good to have gone but hard to recommend to others I'm afraid.

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