Submit to happiness

12 April 2017

After a few days struggling to find classical structure and characters at the festival, Ghee Bowman finally and willingly enters the post-plot world, thanks to Celebration

OK, I give up. This clearly is *not* the festival to be looking for plot, character, beginning/middle/end. Either I’ve come to the wrong fest, or I need to relax into the post-plot world we live in. I think I managed it this evening in the Don Roy Theatre, and I think it was Celebration from Warwick that helped me do it.

Hell, it was just so endearing as a piece, so charming. I could watch Ben Kulvichit all night, and Clara Potter-Sweet is just so, umm, sweet. They sang wildly, danced with gay abandon, played parlour games and sat inside a little model church with a microphone. At times I thought this was a play (no, we don’t do plays at the NSDF, Ghee) piece about their relationship: they swapped clothes, they carried each other around, they were so plainly in harmony: they even predicted having children. But then it slipped seamlessly into something else – projections about God, a story of an artist and her dog. You just have to see it.

There were two clear highlights for me. The show (yeah, it was a show) opened with a wonderfully manic dance, in which Clara and Ben threw themselves around the stage. The dancing was good, tight, well-choreographed, like a club night for two; but more importantly than that, their humour and their charm shone through. I couldn’t help but warm to them. And that warmth stayed with me all the way through, even in the places that dragged or where I felt puzzled.

My second highlight was completely unexpected: the third performer. Towards the end of the show the two performers went off for another costume change, and, surprisingly, Kate Wyver (of this parish) stood up from out of the audience and told us that she’d been asked to cover their costume change by talking about herself. Even more amazingly, she then tore up what she had been planning to say, told us briefly about an OAP friend of hers in Bristol who died today, and led us in singing a round of “This Old Freedom Train”. And then she burst into tears. Fourth wall? Who needs it? Audience are performers and performers are audience. Especially at the NSDF. And this was, in its way, a perfect show for the NSDF.

One small niggle: the audience were so carried away by the charm that some kept laughing all the way through, even at times when I was smiling gently or just absorbed in the flow. Is that the fault of the performers? Maybe not, in these post-fourth-wall days. But maybe it is.

So what was Celebration about? Doesn’t matter. I’ve let go of the need to define subjects, themes and topics. From now on I will simply switch off and go with the flow. Thanks Clara and Ben for showing me how.

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Photo credit: Aenne Pallasca