Rewind at New Diorama Theatre
Experimental performance art meets Latin American authoritarianism and the struggle for social justice in Rewind.
Ephemeral Ensemble have brought an energetic show to the New Diorama Theatre. Rewind blends different forms of physical movement, aggressive lighting choices and music to tell the story of those who fought for rights and democracy in Latin America.
The company has hit upon a powerful tale. But the events and the characters sometimes feel obscured by the production itself. The harsh fight for rights and democracy is understood. There is a vague character of a girl who dies in that fight and an interpretation of archaeologists who later exhumed a mass grave of political dissidents. But that’s about as much context as the audience is given.
The evening begins with an introduction from Andres Valesquez, one of the performers. His natural charisma behind the microphone is engaging and he makes the audience yearn to find out more about the subject. But the rest of the performance just doesn’t build on that enough, trying too hard perhaps to use different artistic methods to showcase emotion instead of communicating the narrative.
A one-man band sits on stage creating audio loops while a lighting technician throws up various projections of water droplets. There are blackouts and UV lighting. There’s puppeteering and there’s screaming. These different elements fight each other for attention and drown out the story.
Taken in isolation, each piece is interesting and well done: Alex Paton is clearly a talented composer (even if audio looping is a rather tired trick these days), the lighting is often gripping and the puppeteering demonstrates real skill with such simple props. But it’s as if each of these was designed and workshopped separately to be the star of the show before being thrown together where they end up battling and detracting from one another.
There’s certainly a strong and powerful history that inspired Rewind and there’s a company of talented performance artists in the production. But all the different artistic elements end up distracting from the true purpose of the show: to tell an important story.
Image: Matthew Hodgkin
Rewind is at New Diorama Theatre from 1st until 10th February 2024. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.