Pulse Festival Reviews 3 – Wednesday 7th July

Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield by Lucy Grace

For me the best performance of the festival so far – this was a well researched and touching exploration of two lives – the life of the Narrator of the piece Lucy Grace, who discovered the wonders of Narnia as a child and found the impact of that discovery colouring most of her life – and Lucy Barfield, the goddaughter of C.S Lewis, the girl on whom Lucy Pevensie is based , and to whom the Narnia chronicles are dedicated.

In a controlled and absorbing performance Lucy took us through her research into the life of someone who at first seemed invisible – but as she persevered emerged from the shadows as a talented young woman who flourished after being adopted by Lewis’s friend, only to be cruelly cut down by MS in the prime of her life.

Using taped interviews with Lucy Barfield’s one time friend Anne, as well as extracts from original letters, this was an interesting and emotional performance, full of gentle humour that brought into the light the continuing effect a brilliant childhood book can have on our lives, and the life of a girl who inspired both a famous writer and a generation of readers.

Am I Dead Yet? – Unlimited Theatre

Unlimited Theatre have been creating productions since 1997 so in theory they should know what they are doing! According to their programme, Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe seem to have approached the subject of death in an interesting and scientific way – researching the effect of being submerged in ice – the techniques of CPR and the increasing desperation of the general populous to put off death for as long as possible – even if our quality of life becomes severely diminished.

It’s a pity all these ideas were not explored more interestingly and competently within this performance!

Using the framework of a couple of rambling stories – one about two policeman from the ‘70s finding a dismembered body of a suicide victim on a railway track and another of a young girl rescued after falling through ice – the two men explored some aspects of death, throwing a bit of humour and some rather dodgy songs in along the way. But this very much felt like a work in progress and a collection of ideas rather than a well formed piece.

The questions raised about our need to live forever and what it would mean for us personally and society in general are extremely interesting ones. I think in there somewhere is a play desperately trying to get out. But it didn’t make it this evening.

Jack Rook – Good Grief

Another stand up piece about death – yey!!!

Jack Rook is a very personable young man who I think believes he is the only performer on the circuit worth listening to on the subject of death. After all – he’s experienced it with the death of his Nan and his Father – so he must be the expert.

Using the medium of food, and footage of him talking to his Nan before her demise, Jack takes us through the ups and downs of his (rather mundane) childhood and the experience of losing both relatives – yet it all seemed rather impersonal and unemotional, and in some ways exploitative.

Or perhaps I’m just tired of western performers telling us about themselves and their rather ordinary lives when across the world young children are facing death and destruction, homelessness and starvation, on a daily basis.

It was all a bit self indulgent and lazy. I would be interested to see if Jack can grow away from his own experiences and create a show about something less personal and more important.

Suzanne Hawkes

 

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