Expiry Date @ The Barbican Pit Theatre (London International Mime Festival 2016) Review

Have you ever questioned your life, the moments of exaltation and events where you think this cannot get any better? Well in this presentation of making the most of moments, Baba Fish explore and interrogate the existence of life. An absurdist look into the life of an old man, this show is a journey of invention, memories and nostalgic occurrences. In collaboration with The London International Mime Festival, Baba Fish devise a production that is playful, melodramatic and contemplative.

Expiry Date

Expiry Date is about an old man, Joseph, alone in his last hour with his memories. The show is a dialogue of circus performance, traditional and contemporary dance, drawing on stylised references that are visually engaging and sculptured to the piece. Walking into the auditorium, classical music is plays, foreshadowing an essence of grandeur, tradition and luxury. Although, the music is not the first thing that strikes you, it is the set. An amalgamation of set dominoes and industrial machines, this set is nothing short of inventive. The time-counting, mechanical scenography is very important to the dramaturgy of the piece, often symbolising character thoughts, functions and memories. This end on production, presents in essence an inventors workshop, illuminating the function of human life in comparison to machines. The show begins with all four performers present on stage, flicking through a book, interpreted as the memories of our protagonist. The show considers the life of one individual, and explores all the fragments of life; the marriage, the fights, the parties and the random moments of juggling and balancing life. The cast includes a juggler, a dancer, and a singer not only defining them by their one skill but by several others. This show is multi faceted, almost representing life itself, embedded within the performer multi-rolling and skill base.

Expiry Date, has toured extensively since 2014, and with hope to continue touring in the future, this show presents a universality that is infectious. Anna Nilsson, one of the creators of Expiry Date had the urge to make the show at the precise moment she was rushing downhill on her bike. This statement is an insight into the shows persona and identity, spontaneously interacting and developing in absurdist scenes and movement sequences. This production embodies the ideology ‘l’m living now’, shining a light on life itself, through the lens of time. Furthermore, the production explores themes connoting love, conflict, death, life and interaction. Within this production there is an ever-changing tone and atmosphere, at first intriguing, slowing developing into ecstatic and concluding on a melancholic tone.

The operation of this production is utterly innovative and awe striking, offering moments of anticipated exhilaration when the dominoes get knocked down or when the machine pops out a juggling ball. However, this show often appears disjointed, and narratively confusing. Although, the product is absurd in essence, often this is not wholly justified. As an audience member, it was often difficult to follow all the action being presented on stage, frustrating as you missed out on vital moments and details. Expiry Date, appears greatly devised but I question how accessible this is to the audience. It often feels like a combination of material not quite formed together. This production presents material that is undeniably creative and engaging, but I believe the links need to executed more clearly.

This production is truly unique in concept and identity; it is a production that offers colour to a process that is tangible to all humans, life and death. The sense of creativity throughout is engaging to watch, drawing on playful influences. The absurd nature of the piece symbolised with disjointed scenes is questionable, appealing an assumed knowledge of the story of the piece. I leave the production with a renewed sense of making the most of moments, and contemplating what machines I can invent? 3/5

Review written by Meg Mattravers.

Expiry Date is currently showing at The Barbican Pit Theatre as part of this year’s London International Festival until Saturday 23rd January 2016. For more information on the production, visit here…

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