performance Tokyo Ghetto Arnolfini, Bristol
Monday 23 June 1997
But what had begun as very poor, poor theatre soon became ever more Artaudian, fulfilling the company's stated brief of incorporating many disparate styles. Taped music (from Ryuichi Sakamoto) accompanied slow, balletic movements from a female chorus, while two television monitors showed a montage of images including snatches of an anti-Japanese wartime propaganda film. A circular disc was lowered from the ceiling, on which the performers balanced precariously. There followed a kind of punk interlude, with a karaoke routine to Iggy Pop's "Raw Power", which was great.
The components of what turned out to be a fascinatng spectacle were then added one by one until all the following was going on: an actress munching cabbage leaves and spitting them out on the floor; the female chorus reappearing dressed in Forties underwear with their heads veiled in surgical dressings; a guinea pig wriggling in a transparent container.
As the climax of the show approached (after nearly an hour and a half's duration), an actress took the guinea pig from the jar and began to cuddle it. Ominously, another actress moved a lectern to the centre of the stage and began to slice up a page of A4 paper with a Stanley knife. Oh no, you thought, not the guinea pig! The ending, however, was all sweetness and light. An epilogue showed a hooded demonstrator mime the throwing of a stone, while a Chinese guard looked on. The guard then took the stone and threw it himself, before leaving the stage with the demonstrator, arm in arm. Tiananmen Square, right?
Asked for a post-match summary you'd have to say that it was intermittently superb, with images that were deeply strange and powerful, communicated through a chillingly disciplined technique. At other times, however, it seemed like nothing so much as a load of old toss, at least to the beery philistine that shares house-room with the voyeur inside us all. And whether it was worth anyone's sore back, or a psychologically scarred guinea pig, is debatable.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Man to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia after ripping up a Koran and hitting it with his shoe
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Skrillex and Diplo's 24-hour DJ set shut down by police after 18 hours
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Drake matches The Beatles' record with 14 singles in top 100 chart at the same time
Aidan Turner interview: 'being a sex symbol is a little awkward'
Oscars 2015: Get a sneak peek inside this year's outrageous $125,000 goodie bags
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'