REVIEW – Falling in Love with Frida (The Lowry)

Date: 20 march 2015
Upstaged Rating: 

Walking in to the studio at The Lowry to lively Mexican music, letters on our chairs (which we weren’t allowed to open yet) and brightly lit neon cacti seemed to relax everyone straight away. And this was before the shots of Tequila were dished out.

Falling in Love with Frida first previewed at Sick! Festival in Brighton last year. This year the Festival comes to Manchester, aiming to shine a light on urgent issues that are taboo and misunderstood and looking to confront the challenges of life and death.

With a cast of 4 women, Falling in Love with Frida, is a warm, intimate and interactive performance exploring the life, love and legacy of the artist Frida Kahlo. The 50 minute performance is made up of movement, music and spoken word and is led by Australian born Caroline Bowditch, a disabled performance artist and choreographer, who now lives in Glasgow.

Frida Kahlo was severely injured in a road traffic accident as a teenager, recovering from these injuries caused her to become isolated – a feeling which influenced her most famous works, namely self portraits. Caroline Bowditch explores her own experiences, having brittle bone disease and being a performance maker and wonders what mark she will leave on the world. It is apt that the play opens with Bowditch lying on the top of a yellow dining table staring at a reflection of herself in a mirror – the performance is a self portrait of Bowditch.

With seating on 3 sides of the stage, the performance allowed for the audience to really get involved – dancers Welly O’Brien and Nicole Guarino would lock eyes and flash a smile to individuals in the crowd. Bowditch even shared a piece of water melon with one lady as well as passing a small note to another. British Sign Language interpreter, Yvonne Strain was also fully immersed in the movement on stage- skilled choreography made Strain intrinsic to the performance, something that I have never seen before.

As Caroline Bowditch expresses her passion for Frida Kahlo she draws parallels between herself and the painter, using this to reflect on her own life and experiences. Throughout the show I ended up finding out more about Bowditch than I did Kahlo – she gave me a snapshot of her life, her loves, her dreams and explored ideas around legacy and how we might be remembered.

This is the first time Sick! Festival has been launched in Manchester and it has certainly aroused discussion and succeeded in encouraging people to talk and debate subjects which may not have been approached so honestly before.

-Kristy Stott