REVIEW – Handle With Care (Week 53 – The Lowry, Salford)

Handle With Care by Dante or Die Theatre Co Week 53 at The Lowry, Salford
Handle With Care by Dante or Die Theatre Co
Week 53 at The Lowry, Salford
UPSTAGED RATING: 

“A journey of one woman and her stuff through a lifetime of self-storage”

Handle With Care is a curiously intimate site-specific performance which plays out in the metal units and brightly lit corridors of a self-storage facility. Presented as part of the innovative Week 53 festival hosted by The Lowry in Salford, Handle With Care tells the story of Zoe through the most poignant stages of her life. Exploring the central themes to the festival, Place & Identity, we are encouraged to explore ideas surrounding life experiences, the memories we hold on to and the personal possessions that we use to keep them alive.

The show is visually impressive – it’s a promenade performance with the audience following the actors around the Ready Steady Store unit in Worsley, Greater Manchester. The small audience find themselves watching the story unfold within the locker-lined corridors and small confines of each storage unit. It’s innovative and intimate and the audience are encouraged to move around the actors during the performance – it’s a bit like a fly-on-the-wall experience. The audience witness the reality of the arguments that take place behind closed doors, the domestic bickering and private moments of reflection.

What is so remarkable is the fluidity with which Handle With Care is presented – in 90 minutes we whizz through the decades in Zoe’s life, from 1988 to the present day. The dynamic cast handle the transition between varying performance spaces and they work around the strategically placed audience well . 

Fuelled by the audiences curiosity, each key is turned in each storage unit and the door flung open, to reveal another poignant incident in Zoe’s life. The detailed design is studded with costume and artefacts from the 80’s and 90’s and the soundtrack featuring The Stone Roses and Alanis Morisette pushes us through each year and into the next. 

Handle With Care is a triumphant site-specific piece and it could not be performed in a more suited environment – encouraging us to reflect on our own experiences, memories and our notions of place and identity.

 -Kristy Stott

Handle With Care continues to tour through May and June 2016: Harlow Playhouse with Lok ‘n Store from the 13th-15th May, South St Arts Centre with Lok ‘n Store from the 19th-22nd May, Lighthouse Poole with Lok ‘n Store from the 26th-29th May and Shoreditch Townhall with Urban Locker from the 3rd-25th June. For more information on the site-specific performance please click here.

REVIEW – Chotto Desh (The Lowry, Salford)

Chotto Desh © Richard Haughton

 

Thingstars: 

Chotto Desh is being performed as part of the Week 53 festival at The Lowry Theatre in Salford. The innovative festival seeks to bring together contemporary dance, visual arts, music and theatre in interactive installations, exhibitions and performances.

We were thrilled to find out that the Akram Khan Company were taking part in the festival with a new adaptation of their Olivier Award-winning DESH, suitable for children aged 7+ and their families. This is the first ever family show created by Akram Khan and I was very excited to introduce Thing 1, who loves to dance, to some of Akram Khan’s work.

Chotto Desh meaning ‘small homeland’ in Bengali, is the perfect blend of dance, clever animation and simple storytelling set to the beat of an original soundtrack. The narrative is beautifully painted and is pitched at the ideal pace and level for older children to enjoy and understand, detailing a young British man’s dreams, curiosities and memories on his journey to find home. Despite being born in London, Akram has roots in Bangladesh and the Philippines – we follow him on his journey from Britain to Bangladesh and back again; we understand his aspiration to be a dancer and we explore a magical world of memories and stories as they unfold to us.

The show is stunningly performed by Dennis Alamanos – the dynamic and detailed choreography fuses classical Indian Kathak with ballet and contemporary dance. With references to Michael Jackson, breakdancing and street dance – we can understand how popular culture influenced Akram’s childhood. Alamanos’ movement fuses perfectly with the voiceovers and dream-like moving images. Children’s mouths were agape at the enchanting animation – as Akram comes face to face with a crocodile and stares in awe at an elephant before sprinting away from an approaching tiger.

There is such fluidity with the whole performance which also aids little ones understanding and there is a perfect scattering of humour. It was pleasing to see so many children engaging with the performance and enjoying such a breathtaking piece of choreography. Chotto Desh is the perfect mix of storytelling and dance, loaded with innocence and affection, making it fitting for young minds.

Chotto Desh is a beautiful adventure for children aged 7+ and their grown-ups – thrilling, poignant and brilliant. It certainly encouraged us to think about our own home and family and the aspirations that drive us forward.


-Kristy Stott

Chotto Desh runs at the Lowry in Salford until 4 May 2016.