Yvonne Harcus tells us about her latest adventure to the Manipulate Festival which was supported by The Touring Network’s GO SEE fund.

Achilles from Company of Wolves is included in her reivew and also just been added to our Supported Programme – potential Collection on tourbook.

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REVIEW OF MANIPULATE FESTIVAL BY YVONNE HARCUS

Having experienced ‘A Brief History of Evil’ at our local Theatre two years ago I made the pilgrimage to Edinburgh last year to see ‘The End of Things’ not knowing that it was part of the weeklong Manipulate Festival. This year knowing that The Company of Wolves would once again be performing I wanted to extend my stay to savour as many delights of the Manipulate festival as I could. Although I only had a couple of nights in the capital, I booked what was available, not knowing what I was about to see…

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Night one…First show: Song of the Goat Compagnie a/France, duration 50 mins / Ages 12+

My programme told me that I was about to see ‘A tiny but universal tragedy, played by three comedians and a crazy musician. An acerbic, funny, bitter-sweet tale that questions: is life worth living? Does love really exist? Is revenge a dish served hot or cold. And how much is the love of a goat really worth?’

The three actors told their story through a minimal use of objects (no words): tables and toys and great Clowning: physical movements, dance and facial expressions, and the ‘crazy’ musician playing live on the side of the stage added his own physical performance along with a variety of sounds.

I really enjoyed the show and the actor’s performances were lively and engaging. It was funny and sad and raised a few questions of how we live our lives.  My notes at the end said, ‘Very Good!’

This is a show that could capture a wide audience and I would be happy to produce this show in my community.

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…Second show: Plastic Heroes, Ariel Doron, duration 45 mins / Ages 13+

Checking my programme at the interval I read: ‘In a combat zone with no clear enemy or goal, the border between reality and fantasy starts to blur: is all this really happening, or is it all just a game? Violence, desire, hate and fear are put on the table as children’s toys are brought to life, and the innocence of child-like play encounters the bleeding reality of an adult war.’

One man, a table (with a little sand) and toys out of his toy box played out the reality of war. The toys ranged from those small green plastic toy soldiers, I remember from my youth, to the more sophisticated battery-operated helicopters, army tanks and even the live conversations via facetime of today.  To begin with I thought it was just a man reliving his youth playing with his toys, BUT the piece became more engaging and disturbing as the toys told their true story of war.

Again, this is a show that I would happily put on in the community. The narrative is clear, and the audience would relate to the story. A discussion raiser as the audience are bound to come away with many thoughts about war and hopefully with the same feeling as I: ‘what is it good for’.

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Second night…first show: Ressacs. Compagnie Gare Centrale/Belgium, duration 70 mins / 13+

From the moment we entered the Theatre space these two actors had our attention.  Even as they waited on stage for the auditorium to fill up their facial expressions and mannerisms were intriguing and had us hooked.  The programme tells me they portray ‘a couple who have lost everything: their stylish home, their beautiful garden, the lease on their shiny new car.  The bank has taken everything.  Their poverty is absolute.’

Through song, great facial expression and the minimal use of objects and words they tell their story.  It is funny and engaging but there is a darker warning to the audience about the material society that we all live in and which we get consumed by.

This is an easy show to watch with a good moral story.  Many elements of our own lives are portrayed on stage.  I would happily promote this show in my own community.

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…and on to the finale for me… Achilles. Company of Wolves duration 60 mins / Ages 12+

I was looking forward to this year’s Company of Wolves performance…

The myth of Achilles is re-imagined in this heart stopping, dynamically physical solo performance created and performed by Ewan Downie. The story of the greatest hero of the Greeks during the long and bloody Trojan War: how his best friend is killed by the champion of the Trojans, his desperate grief, and his terrible vengeance.

Ewan delivers the story of Achilles through a narrative of text, song and a dynamic physical performance.  The vocal delivery is free and clear, despite the tensions Ewan places on his body throughout his physical performance. Through Ewan’s delivery we learn the vicious and barbaric story of Achilles revenge for the loss of his friend and lover.

This is a powerful performance, well delivered and we hope to have The Company of Wolves perform ‘Achilles’ at our local Centre, later this year.

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You can check out how to book Achilles on tourbook now.  This is a potential Supported Programme  potential collection, so please do let Rhiannon know if you’re interested in applying for funding to put it on in your venue.

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