Pros: The immersive nature of the show makes this an extraordinary experience. As powerful as it is breath-taking.
Cons: It could have been a bit longer, but at this stage we’re just quibbling!
A woman is trapped in a net suspended from the ceiling. Spiderlike, she twists and turns, grappling with the relentless ropes, struggling, falling, pausing for breath. She swings angrily towards the audience and stretches claw-like fingers towards their upturned faces, only to be pulled back by the net in the last second. She is fighting the ropes but also mastering them, and her pose turns from helpless to powerful in moments.
Wild Worlds: Dark Side is a brilliant, mesmerising and profoundly strange piece of performance art, which promises to take its audience into a world where the animal instinct of the human condition is explored. Created by the live performance group The Artful Badger, Wild Worlds: Dark Side is playing as part of the Vault Festival. Four distinctive acts transform one of the railway arches under Waterloo into a truly wild and immersive world, where fauns act as dance instructors and birds perform a contemporary version of Swan Lake.
In the first act, Inhabitable, a group of women dressed in red seem to be fighting an internal struggle. They start talking quickly, break off suddenly, raise a finger and step forward as though having something to say, and then step back silently, immediately. The piece is strangely beautiful, uncanny, and gripping, as a rhythm and pattern emerges which makes some sense of the madness.
The second act, In-Side-Out, is a powerful dance piece involving three swans. Skin by Aedin Walsh, the third act, follows the spider-woman in her net, in which acrobatics merge seamlessly with performance art. She seems to be struggling with her own being, desperately trying to break away from her own skin only to be dragged back by the net of her own making.
The pauses between the acts are filled by a soft male voice echoing around the vault. It’s a bit of light relief among tension-packed acts, as the voice mockingly asks the audience about their reactions to the pieces: “Did you find it avant garde? Did it move you? Did you feel moved?”
The forth act Follow the Faun: Running with the Sun was by far the weirdest, and also my favourite. It transformed the deep space of the Vault into a kind of live and immersive video game: a faun stood up front directing the audiences’ dance movements whilst a huge projector filled the space with crazed colours and dizzying scenes. Up on the wall a woman hung from a rope, seemingly trying to escape from the crowd while electronic music pounded through the space. It was an extraordinary experience as every sense was drawn into the movement, sound, light and images of the show. Putting it into words can’t do this piece of performance art justice, so you had better go and experience it yourself.
Director, Writer and Producer: The Artful Badger
Booking Until: 14 February 2015
Box Office: 0207 620 3364
Booking Link: http://www.vaultfestival.com/project/wild-worlds-dark-side/