Spirit of the jazz age : Theatre

People Show 100 On tour
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The Independent Culture
This, as the title suggests, was the 100th numbered show from this anarchic performance group (there have been others). Would that we could all be as fresh when facing our centenary celebrations. The People Show (show and group share the same name ) has now been going for 27 years, during which time thealternative performance art it helped pioneer has become a significant part of the British theatre landscape. Yet the performers still have a sharp edge. Their work may be experimental, but they hav e an impish sense of humour which is highly infectious - watching them is like watching a child with a new box of tricks. Match that with a few inspired moments, and perhaps you have the secret of longevity.

People Show 100's point of departure is the death of the jazz musician Chet Baker, who fell from the window of an Amsterdam hotel in 1988. The show explores the seconds before he hit the ground, usingthe notion of his life flashing before him to present us with a collage of images to suggest the texture of his life. There is no biographical detail, nothing strictly naturalistic; instead, using a couple of scaffolding towers, a screen and a piano, the performers conjure up the feel of a life spent on theroad, driven by music. Josette Bushell-Mingo, who represents Chet Baker, has a powerful presence, the rich smoothness of her singing contrasting starkly with the feverish activity on stage. I won't forget the final, startling image of Bushell-Mingo sinking behind a glass wall, singing in little gasps, as another performer outlined her falling image in lipstick. One hundred, not out.

n Details: 0171-729 1841