Wrapping up day four of The Currency festival, bringing the best experimental plays from across Europe to Central London’s The Place, the final day has a premise of discord. Germany’s Julie Christ and Agata Maszkiewicz of Poland are tasked with concluding the event; and it seems they both want to make their audience feel as uncomfortable as possible.
Julie Christie’s Se Padre Fait Partie Du Jeu is described as exploring the idea of the body as a receptacle of memories, a 25-minute display of hand balancing and manipulation of a table, the centrepiece of the performance. A cacophony of keyboard clickety clacks and industrial bass rumbles and chugs around the theatre as Christ handles the table with deft expertise. Although in control of the table, Christ is unable to stray from the object, as if drawn back by an invisible string. The table is something inextricably linked to her, like a shell she is trying to shed, but in the end she returns to willingly, a place both familiar and comfortable.
Agata Maszkiewicz’s Polska at times felt like less of a performance and more of a test of endurance for the audience, who were put through some very uncomfortable moments. Blending, dance, music and subtle humour, the performance began with a You’ve Been Framed type montage of athlete blunders, gradually growing more insidious. Dressed as an athlete, half of her performance consisted of her writhing on the floor, bent into almost impossible shapes. The other half seemed like her backside was permanently thrust in the audiences’ face. The lack of music and silence of the theatre, added to the snails paced movement, which made for awkward viewing. She then proceeded with some standup that went right for the jugular and prompted much guilty laughter. “What did the lesbian vampire say to the other lesbian vampire? See you next month”… Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, no?
Polska is equally about success, failure and society’s culture of laughing at the misfortune of others as it is about the sexualisation of the female athlete character, which can’t escape from the cultural associations of the female body. The performance may have left the audience a little bit awkward and guilty, but surely thoroughly entertained. 4/5
Review written by Evan Parker.
The Currency Festival was a 4 day event at The Place Theatre from Wednesday 5th-Saturday 15th November. For more information on future productions at The Place, visit here…