Sunday, 20 January 2019
REVIEW: Angels - HOME, Manchester.
As part of HOME’s Push Festival 2019, Josh Coates curated a night of performances inspired by the music of pop icon and ‘no.1 angel’ Charlie XCX, taking place in Theatre 2 at 9pm. The show really suited its slightly later start time, merging into the night-time hours where Charlie’s songs can truly be appreciated.
With five theatre companies each exploring one of Charlie’s songs, Josh Coates began the evening by lip-syncing, dancing and glittering all over the stage (and, for a moment, in the audience on one knee, pointing the song’s hook at different members of the audience – including me). Coates, in his silver shining dress, brought the audience together immediately. Clarifying that there would be no more lip-syncing after that point, he shared his enthusiasm for the event and the companies performing very successfully. I think it’s important that a host informs the audience exactly how they should treat the space and performances in episodic performance evenings like Angels, and Josh Coates did exactly that.
James Varney and Eliyana Evans created a piece based on Nuclear Seasons. Varney’s clerical reading told us of an apocalyptic world where Charlie exists as some ‘other’, creating noise from deep under the earth. Evans produced a matching ambience; simple, clean but harrowing when paired with Varney’s dialogue, in a constant flux between funny and scary.
N@ X b£nJA, Ben Kulvichit and Nat Norland interpreted Charlie’s song Boys. The pair stood centre stage, wigs dislodged, sporting those all-too familiar, knee-length schoolboy shorts, completing some kind of broken initiation into what Charlie, in the song’s music video, associates boyhood to. I thought the concept was really, really funny and splaying out the song to make the tasks painfully durational was excellent.
YESYESNONO’s Sam Ward brought the audience onto the stage and, inspired by No Angels, created a piece celebrating guiltless sex by making members of the audience acknowledge ‘where shame lives’ on a human body, in response to distorted confessions played to us in the dark. It ended up being quite a sensory experience, as Ward inverted the shame into pride, when we were asked to – and you could interpret this however – touch yourself in a place that reminded you of a really great sexual experience.
Pink Freud’s spoken piece, adorned by fairy lights, maintained a similar interpretation of bringing the ideas of Charlie’s music into a real, non-fantastical feeling. The performance had a piece of music underscoring the text that the three actors performed, each overlaying one another, leading to an emotional culmination of ideas that climaxed with the performers emotively shouting from the back of the stage.
The night peaked with a performance inspired by Charlie’s song Vroom Vroom. I really enjoyed the whole interpretation, especially the power thrusting and the zen way the company ate pastries onstage. The ‘level’s structure complimented Vroom Vroom and made the honesty of the narration more prominent.
I came in to Coates’s event with a liking for Charlie XCX, but I left with a need for her – I’ve been listening to her all day: It’s official, I’m an angel.
Reviewer - Jessica Wiehler
on - 19/1/19