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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mutatis Mutandis, La Fura dels Baus, theatre review

Published in The Guardian

Mutatis Mutandis

Gannochy sports centre, Stirling
3 out of 5 3

The last time La Fura dels Baus played in Scotland was with XXX, a defiantly adult show that featured sexual practices from sodomy to incest. It gives an idea of the ambition of mFest, a groundbreaking festival programmed by teenagers for teenagers, that the centrepiece of its inaugural weekend should be a collaboration with this maverick Barcelona company. With several young Scots in the cast, Mutatis Mutandis is an explosive piece of image theatre that makes up in exuberance what it lacks in subtlety.

Jürgen Müller's production begins atop a white pyramid in some primitive time when a shamanistic woman wonders among wolves baying at the moon. We flash forward to a scene of modern-day dancing, which, in turn, is interrupted by the arrival of four figures representing the forces of religion, capitalism, media and the military.

It's standard agit-prop imagery – and frequently the actors have little to do but stand and grimace – but the show finds life as the pyramid separates into four units that race precariously towards the standing audience. It creates a sense of unease, exacerbated by the cacophonous soundtrack and glaring lights.

Before long, the authority figures grow decadent, revelling in their might and abusing their positions. On ground level, a rebellion is afoot and, only after the audience is assaulted with chains, weapons and water, and fireballs have been spun and fireworks exploded, is harmony restored.

The wilder things become, the more entertaining the show is, but it's hard to be convinced by its revolutionary spirit. The images of corrupted power are too generalised, which makes the rebellion look like so much posturing. It means more sound and fury than emotional engagement.

© Mark Fisher 2010

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