Friday, 10 April 2020

FILM REVIEW: The Way Out - Battersea Arts Centre, London.

An intriguing, off-beat and hugely metaphorical film, "The Way Out" is the latest offering from Battersea Arts' Centre's 'Performance Live' and BBC's Arts' Culture In Quarantine Season.

It's a curious offering, but is a lot deeper and more metaphysical than it might appear on the surface. Not only does it challenge who we are and what we are looking for; our identity, freedom, choice, gender, being etc, but is also a microcosmic metaphor for the way many of us are feeling and behaving during these strange and unpredented times.

"The wind scatters seeds. They land and they grow. But how?"

A youth runs away from the rain seeking shelter in the first open building he comes to.. it is The Battersea Arts Centre. Waiting for him is his 'guide' [Alonso finding Prospero after the storm?] The Guide - played with honesty, mystery, and a hint of malevolence, is the sinister but beguiling Omid Djalili. He takes his at first unwilling visitor on a 'tour' of the building, which holds many surprising and strange encounters. The youth (Blaithin MacGabhann) doesn't speak the entire time, allowing Djalili to come out with several memorable and extremely quotable lines making his character appear perhaps much wiser than he really is. Without giving away the plot or indeed the plot's premise, I'll stop there. Any more and I'd ruin your viewing pleasure.

There is a mix of art, installation, live music, cabaret, circus, contemporary dance, and many dark and intimidating passages to navigate before the youth's catharsis. These other artistes included performances by Lucy McCormick, Caleb Femi, Botis Seva, Le Gateau Chocolat, The Cocoa Butter Club, Sanah Ahsan, and Too Hot For Candy. All of whom enforce or iterate the same messages of being, staying true, believing in who you are and what you want etc.

"Without peace there can be no equality. Without equality there can be no peace."

It's weird, modern, relevant and clever. Indeed the whole film - all 41 minutes of it - was filmed in one single shot. That in itself is a huge acheivement and since I was aware of this prior to watching I bore this in mind throughout and although it was obviously possible, it was very clever, seamless, and worked surprisingly well. Giving the impression that you yourself were taking the journey with the youth in an immersive theatrical experience. In these days of lockdown and isolation though, I did wonder how they were able to have so many people involved in the shoot, all working within such close proximity to each other.

"Everything you need is here, if you can find it."

The rain has stopped, the youth, heart lighter, wanders back into the night. The rain has stopped.

"I can only show you the door. It's up to you to go through it."

A contemporary thought-provoking film, cleverly crafted and with excellent attention to detail. The set decor and lighting effects were imaginative and again very evocative of an immersive promenade theatre experience. Thoughtfully and intelligently directed by Suri Krishnamma, this film is available to watch on BBC iPlayer and will also be broadcast on BBC 4  in May.

Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 10/4/20

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