Quote Of The Day

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

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Kin @ Lyttelton Theatre…

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see internationally acclaimed physical and visual theatre company Gecko perform their latest piece Kin at the Lyttelton Theatre on London’s glitzy South Bank.
Kin is a deeply personal performance presenting as it does stories of desperation in a merciless world, and there are many horrific parallels with our current society.
At its core the piece is about migration, and it brings along with it a harrowing focus on racism, community and survival. There is some joy too - as some characters, all too few perhaps, reach their goals and are reunited with fellow migrants and family - but mainly it's a fairly harrowing watch.
The show has some highly emotive and somewhat uncomfortable imagery in the performance too, particularly in the moments where the dancers are forced to paint their faces white as a form of abuse by their tormentors. And then later on those same characters choose to paint their faces white to 'pass'. It's a deeply unsettling transition. But incredibly powerful, as it made the audience really feel deeply for the characters, and experience some of their emotional trauma they were going through. And the lengths they would go to.
Gecko’s dance style is iconic; expressive, rhythmic, pulsating, political. It's experimental too. As with many Gecko shows, they have an effortless way of crafting extraordinary visuals through various trickery and theatre techniques. This is in part, down to the excellent lighting design of Chris Swain, who manages to make performers completely vanish through doors and into darkness. 
A TV and electric heater suddenly become spotlights, bunraku-style puppets introduce additional characters, and the revolving stage and travellators symbolise both the passing of time, but also the uncontrollable nature of the characters' situation. These all add to the visual poetry and ultimately produce storytelling excellence.
By the end of the show, the characters are less than people; mere bodies, cargo, with an identity that has decayed to turbulent performance on the high seas. It was in this moment that each actor took the opportunity to step forward - step out of the piece - to tell their own truth and expand on their own personal experiences, introducing themselves by name. Although this did jar you out of the narrative, it grounded the piece in truth and made us remember that this is reality we are watching, not a fantasy story.
Great to see Artistic Director Amit Lahav himself perform too.
Kin is not just a performance, it’s an experience. As you can probably tell, it moved me greatly.



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