Teatro Pomodoro’s evocative and vivid performance took to the stage in the companies’ home town on the back of notable success towards the other end of the country as they took part in this year’s Liverpool Comedy Festival.
Their acclaimed ‘Cabaret From The Shadows’ had picked up the Nordic Fringe Network Award for their performance at the Brighton Fringe this year, and arrived with a highly promising reputation.
We were immediately sent as an audience into a world of vivid costume and mysterious tones, as the cast came on stage to proclaim their mission for the evening: “We have come to read your mind”.
Indeed, the show itself, through the medium of a Tim Burton-esque world of costume created by Carmen Arquelladas (who was also one of the members of a lively cast) came to life as the performers delved into a world that tackled social and political issues of today in a mad swirl of dark comedy.
All the cast played a pivotal role in creating this mesmerising picture, with Canadian-born actor Duncan Cameron as some sort of eerie and entertaining ringmaster of ceremonies. Almost an entertainer to one of the darkest corners of your mind, and for this he came across exceptionally well throughout.
That said, every member of the cast displayed skills that, as a trained actor myself over the years, I absolutely admire and commend. At points in the performance where there was very little or no dialogue, everything was explained both through the set and the physical expression of the cast.
The performers showed a very adept and thoughtful approach to everything they did. Watching their every move and action felt like I was constantly looking at a script and choreography that was left entirely without bounds, and that it could shift and change as much as it wanted. This would seem an ideal thing when exploring the sub-conscious mind that, in itself, knows no limits.
One specific example came right at the start of the performance, where for several moments they simply stood before the audience, and yet every single facial expression and physical action spoke to us long before words came out.
This excellent dramatic expression was intertwined brilliantly with the episodes of performance that came throughout. The show took on important social and political issues during the night such as the hypocrisy of the British royal family, the brainwashing of people by the government and the class divide in today’s society.
All of this came through a performance that was almost episodic, taking on one issue after the other which was all brought to us as an audience in the most bizarre, entertaining and original ways possible.
Indeed, I will struggle to come across another performance that sees a scouse actor, Leebo Luby, playing a guitar solo whilst impersonating a chicken; Nor do I think I will see a man in a straight jacket nailing a harmonica solo (so it seemed!); and finally, neither do I imagine I will see an Italian such as actor Simone Tani eating raw fish out of a meat grinder which was held in newspaper wrap!
Also, just as key to the performance as the great expression and delivery from the actors, was a clever and well-thought out level of audience interaction. Naturally it was generally those in the front row that paid the price!
Examples included bringing one man out of the audience to paint the entire arm of actress Miwa Nagai completely yellow; Another man being given the chance to get revenge on his former boss as the actors set to work on a voodoo doll on-stage; and finally, most entertaining of all, the cast inviting the entire audience to throw paper balls at members of the cast in some strange, fairground-type episode.
However, despite the bizarre nature of them, each audience interaction seemed to have a purpose in reinforcing the message of each piece, and they also offered a welcome break to any members of the audience who may have lost the translation of each message during the play.
Every single element of what could have been perceived as randomness or insanity from this performance seemed to have two purposes. The first of which, for me, seemed to be a message that everyone’s opinion on topical subjects around the world can change and fluctuate constantly for even the most minute or irrelevant reasons.
Secondly, I believe that the completely unbridled expression throughout was to paint an uncompromising picture of just how raw, primal and extreme the human sub-conscious actually is.
The complete originality of the show and exceptional execution of expression by the performers gave justification to the reason why this play earned their Brighton Fringe award this year.
There seems no boundaries to what Teatro Pomodoro are willing to take on in terms of issues, and no boundaries either to how they will express what they do, with original writing and performance at its heart.
I personally look forward to seeing more of their work in the future.
Reviewer: Robert Pritchard
Reviewed: 20th September 2017
North West End Rating: ★★★★