Star rating – 5/10
I know I will be deeply unpopular and probably totally out of kilter with the mountains of praise that will get heaped onto this show piece of the Manchester International Festival, but for me it was just too bonkers for words. But I will endeavour to justify that view, indeed in the written form, as this is after all a blog!
The ingredients seems like a sure fire recipe for success. Top Hollywood star Willem Dafoe is the narrator – and although I couldn’t really follow what he was narrating, his power of recall for long monologues seemed very impressive, (less so when I discovered that he had an auto cue however!) and he is obviously a very expressive and talented performer. Anthony Hegarty (Anthony and the Johnsons) wrote and directed the beautiful soundtrack. When he sang his voice was a revelation to me, and he really does possess angelic qualities.
But I can’t say I am much wiser about the life of performance artist Marina Abramovic as a result of seeing this production. She herself starred as her mother in the piece. There was an impressive bit towards the end of the first half about the war in Serbia. And a disturbing masturbation scene, which I was assured by my friends was artificially created, rather than the real thing.
There were three lovely Dobermans wandering the stage as the audience entered looking for the food scattered all over the stage for them, and a man with a live snake wrapped around his neck in an impressive although slightly alarming fashion half way through.
But as to what all this added up to – well I haven’t a clue and couldn’t begin to explain it. The audience reaction was rapturous, so other people obviously got it, and loved it. There’s no accounting for taste. I’ll stick with Damon Albarn this year as my hot festival hit.