05 September, 2009

Festival Blogger review - Experimentum Mundi

Image: Experimentum Mundi. Photo: Peter Sandground.

The prospect of watching a group of artisans performing industrial every-day tasks was some thing I, and likely many other audience members, were somewhat apprehensive about. The experimental nature of the performance was something no-one could ignore, but it was to be certainly worth witnessing.

Sharp, stark noises punch through the intimate Traverse Theatre, as tools clatter against raw materials, tradesman information is sternly announced. It is a brash performance, and although there is a initial hint of awkwardness I soon found myself intrigued in particular artisans - the coopers, the cobblers, the blacksmith. All the elements merge together as the tempo starts to rise and the (somewhat unusual) rhythm picks up. Suddenly something clicked and I found myself captivated by their primary, repetitive actions and the audible results intertwining. The real-time construction of products on stage was an excellent touch and reminded us that these are genuine craftsmen.

This would not have been possible without the excellent performance of percussionist Nicola Raffone, who strode around his collection striking and strumming all manner of instruments - an art to watch in itself. He compounded together the artisans organic sounds and played what was an essential role in the night’s performance.

The craftsmens’ transformation into collective musicians, individually mundane tasks into somewhat of an ensemble, is difficult to describe; but one that was executed incredibly well by director Giorgio Battistelli and is almost as difficult to forget.

Reviewer: Tom Welsh