I wasn’t intending to review the Bishi show I saw last week, but was so affected by her performance that I feel compelled to mention her on my website.
An independent musician, artist and performer based in London, Bishi has a reputation for individual and ambitious work. Described as the doyenne of hybrid music, she combines ancient folk, left field pop and Asian instrumentation with fluency, charm and lyrical melody. The new album ‘Albion Voice’ is a work of vision and musical courage – at the core is a desire to make inspirational music with fearless conviction.
Recent explorations into online broadcast, immersive projection and interactive technology has seen the project move further into art practice with presentations in galleries and cinemas as often as traditional music venues. New works in ceramics, textiles and hand made couture enable a deeper exploration of the influences and processes involved with the project as a whole. With an established international career, Bishi performs and exhibits across Europe, Asia and the US. She was recently announced as ‘The New British Diva’ on the cover of The New York Times and could be compared to the eccentric Lady Gaga.
Bishi is a larger than life character and her personality totally consumed the intimate Print Room audience. Dressed in an impressive structural outfit with head piece and veil, she is a striking performer. She sung through her new album while dancing and playing the sitar in front of spectacular video installations, majestic and magnificent – it was an absolute pleasure watching this Indian beauty perform.
Bishi has a range of prints, ceramics and artworks from recent exhibitions available for purchase, I especially love my pop-arty Bishi tea towel. Her new CD, Albion Voice will be available for purchase soon.
The production of Uncle Vanya is undoubtedly the most spectacular and touching show yet at the Print Room. Presenting the new Mike Poulton translation of the Chekhov standard are familiar artistic duo: director extraordinaire Lucy Bailey and her genius designer husband William Dudley.
At press night I was sitting next to Michael Billington, Guardian journalist legend, who was excitedly chatting to his neighbour about the last ‘Vanya’ they’d seen… I recalled my last Vanya, the picturesque production at the damp and dimly lit Arcola Theatre in Dalston. The Print Room’s adaptation is rich and passionate but equally intimate. The cast fit together like a jigsaw… thanks to some inspired casting by Joyce Nettles, they are all experienced character actors fully committing to their roles and working superbly as a team. Iain Glen is an intense and dramatic Vanya seething with anger and unrequited desire for young Yelena. He is wry and witty and juices the script of its humour. David Yelland is hysteriously pompous as Serebryakov, and William Houston appropriately charismatic and charming as the attractive doctor, Astrov. But it is Charlotte Emmerson as the heartbroken, naïve Sonya that impresses most, she is astute and delicately handles this usually irritating role to give a star performance.
The visual and audio aids contribute considerably to the Russian countryside feel and construct the atmospheric and intimate dining room. I was reminded actually of the warm, sensory overload in Marrakech. Hot tea, empty wine bottles, stained glass windows, realistic bird calls and lilting folk guitar playing and a musty smell of herbal cigarettes in the air.
I preferred the first half which bounces with jollity and mirth, drunken dances and exuberant speeches. The pace in the second half slows considerably, laced with sadness, bitter frustration and anxiety. It ends with painful hopelessness, acted beautifully by Glen and Emmerson, it will bring a tear to every eye.
Continues until 5 May, book here.
Contemporary dance is not one of my favourite artforms to review, mainly because I lack the expert understanding to do it justice, but also because I rarely find it as captivating as other arts. The Print Room, unconventional as ever, are currently staging a unique dance and sculpture collaboration, ‘Jealousy’; the intimate theatre space has been transformed to create a truly atmospheric show.
The audience sit in the round, well in the rectangle, surrounding the bizarrely sculptural set. We are voyeuristic onlookers peering into a very private story. The dancers are constricted within the confines of Laurence Kavanagh’s sculptural modernist design, they weave in and around the angular hanging props. The hour long piece is a depiction of a vicious love triangle: anger, passion and jealousy are realised through the energetic, balletic movement. The narrative is based loosely on the ‘nouveau’ novel ‘Jealousy’ by Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1957. The four choreographers (James Cousins, Hubert Essakow, Daniel Hay-Gordon and Morgann Runacre-Temple) illustrate the major elements of the piece through object, gesture, soundscape, lighting and viewpoint. Amazingly these four choreographers have worked effectively together creatively a seamless and fluent piece.
Seven talented dancers are used in different pairings, occasionally dancing alone on stage but most often using each other to deliver complex routines, all of which are precisely synced with the sound and music. The dancers display impressive strength, and I found the girls particularly engaging, moving with intense concentration and piercing facial expressions. Aesthetically this production excels – the sound and lighting contribute enormously to presenting a striking show. The music is a montage of sounds, a wildly experimental and unpredictable soundtrack, it is very affecting.
Jealousy is a visually spectacular production that at times I found wholly overwhelming, an hour well spent.
Continues until 18 February, book here.