Best of BE Festival, Traverse, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Birmingham International Theatre Festival
Isla Aguilar, Miguel Oyarzun, Mike Tweddle (Festival directors), Judy Owen (Producer), Helena Scott Hardy (Company Manager), Mick Diver (Technical Manager), Milan Ujvari (Choreographer and director of From the Waltz to the Mambo), Julia Schwarzbach (Choreographer and director of Loops and Breaks), Mokhallad Rasem (Choreographer and director of Waiting), Saad Ibraheem (sound and video design for Waiting).
Milan Ujvari (From the Waltz to the Mambo), Julia Schwarzbach (Loops and Breaks), Bassim Altayed, Lore Uyttendaele, Mokhallad Rasem (Waiting)
Running time

Championing an array of new and developing work from around Europe “Best of BE Festival” presents an eclectic mix of physical, spoken and mixed media performances. With three of the most popular shows: “From the Waltz to the Mambo” by Radio Ballet; “Loops and Breaks” by Julia Schwarzbach; and “Waiting” by Mokhallad Rasem accompanied by an interval meal where the audience can mix with each other and the cast, "Best of BE" is an exciting and participatory way of showcasing talent from across Europe.

The festival begins with “From the Waltz to the Mambo”, a solo performance from Hungary stimulated from a vintage dance manual. It explores the beauty, need and enjoyment that dance can provide, experimenting with comedy created through physicality, the abandonment of rules through dance and the power that even a tiny gesture can have.

The second show “Loops and Breaks" from Austria relies solely on the audience, with only a little help from the Julia Schwarzbach. The audience is invited on to the stage to pick an envelope and carry out the task within resulting in unexpected and hilarious performance.

The last show “Waiting” from Belgium is the most serious of the three, implementing projection to question what waiting means to each of us and exploring the struggle that immigrants face trying to enter this country.

All three shows should be commended on their experimental style and risk taking. It is clear that most of them are still in development, however this provides a raw element to each piece which almost allows the audience to feel as though they are getting a personal preview.

“From the Waltz to the Mambo” portrays flawless physical control combined with unexpected elements of comedy. It does feel as though it is almost still in rehearsal, however this is not necessarily a negative point as it presents room for development.

“Loops and Breaks” is a surprisingly successful piece of participatory theatre, succeeding in smashing any fear of audience involvement and gaining over half the audiences contribution. Schwarzbach succeeds in taking risks and testing the audience as without the their help there would have been no performance to present.

The last performance “Waiting” is a thought provoking piece that explores the immigration system and the pain that people who are left waiting have to cope with. Simplistic in its style using the actors to move around white sheets that were projected on, the result compiled is a fragmented and almost heart-breaking visual combined with real stories provided through interviews. The projected subtitles were however altered to read more fluently which took away from the organic nature of the interviews however overall the piece was touching.

With a wide array of themes and styles portrayed “Best of BE Festival” is an exciting array of exploratory works that are definitely worth a look at.

Tour ends 8th November 2014.