The Parachute & Watch the Ball @ Jacksons Lane Theatre (London International Mime Festival 2017) Review
Stephen Mottram’s Animata is part of the London International Mime Festival, the festival concludes in early February and is in its 40th year. Mottram creates two pieces, the first at around 40 minutes and the other to finish at around 10 minutes. Both animations intelligently combine art and science to produce extremely thought-provoking works.
Piece One titled The Parachute shows us the life cycle through a series of ping-pong balls. The protagonist is playful, moves fluidly as he swings from walls and cartwheels around the stage. The character finds love and builds a family, or so the story goes, Mottram’s clever study and implementation of neuroscience into animation shows him to be a captivating craftsman. It is a moving piece and Mottram deftly keeps the audience’s attention through it.
While the first piece was more playful in nature, the second was more illusory. Titled Watch The Ball puppet faces were used to show a sequence with a ball being moved around the stage. Mottram said its effect was the audience having to reclassify the dead object into a moving object, causing conflict in the brain and thus the result was both eerie and magical all at once.
The animated pieces are set to Sebastian Castagna’s music, which enriches the performance and completes it. Eerie in places, playful at times but consistently enhancing the magical feeling in the air, Castagna’s music makes a great marriage with Mottram’s animation.
In a post-show discussion Stephen gives a fascinating insight into the conceptualisation of his works and the science that goes on behind his creations. He believes his work is a form of data he sends to the audience, which they translate (hopefully) into a story in their brains, but in reality it is an illusion consisting simply of shifts in size and weight. Mottram’s ability to delve into existential topics with his animations must be applauded, whilst requiring a level of concentration to watch, both pieces were stimulating and extremely enjoyable. 5/5
Review written by Prerna Prasad.
The Parachute and Watch the Ball are being shown at Jackson’s Lane as part of this year’s London International Mime Festival until Wednesday 25th January. For more information on the production, visit here…