What is the “Mimetic Festival?” Well, that was my question, so before heading off, I looked at their website which says that the Mimetic Festival Brings the very best in emerging contemporary physical theatre, cabaret and puppetry to London, while offering a hub for theatre makers working from a European theatre tradition, to come together to share their work and vision and to foster new collaborations and contacts. This sounded like quite a challenge for the “Finger in the Pie” production team so; I went down Leake Street (the wonderful graffiti tunnel) to The Vaults under Waterloo Station with an open mind and a heightened sense of curiosity at seeing if they could deliver on their promise. And I have to say that based on the launch party showcase on Monday evening, then visitors to the festival are in for an amazing couple of weeks with over 50 companies and 120 performances to take in.
When you enter the Vaults and walk down to Pi’s Bar, which is one of the arches decorated in a fabulous art deco style with lovely artwork by Darren Goad around the walls. Hosted by Pi the mime and the ‘other’ Welsh diva the wonderful Seren Abieu (along with glamorous assistant Myfanwy) who is an absolute joy to watch, Pi’s will offer a nice place to socialise in between seeing the various shows, with walk about circus performers, showcases, a pop-up canteen and screenings from ‘Burn’.
The Vaults are huge and the crew make fantastic use of the space with 3 studio theatres and a cabaret bar along with Pi’s and these are being filled by some wonderful theatre such as “The Greatest Liar in the World” performed by Familia de la Noche which is a rollercoaster ride filled with song, puppetry, physical theatre and clowning. They looked fantastic last night and I have a feeling there will be a lot of twists in their tale. There is also “Nothing to See Here” an intriguing story of intertwining lives and the power of imagination.
As well as theatre, there is cabaret and we saw some wonderful examples of this as well. “Marion Deprez is Gorgeous” was quite as fascinating for two reasons: 1, she was gorgeous and, 2. she explored in a wonderfully comedic manner how much someone can get away with just by being good looking. This is a theme that often pops up in a subtle way in plays and films but Marion Duprez really takes it to the extreme and it really works, giving the audience a good old laugh followed by a moment of reflection about why am I laughing so much?
Almost the reverse in style and content was the wonderful – and for me highlight of the showcase – “Holestar Presents – Sorry I’m a Lady” a drag show with a difference. As someone who has spent a lot of time watching drag acts over the years, I have to say that Holestar was brilliant. The make-up is beautifully over the top and looks stunning and she has a really fantastic singing voice, really belting out her almost biographical song “I’m Here” to great acclaim. This is a show not to be missed.
The final part of the showcase for us was “Boris and Sergey’s Preposterous Improvisation Experiment”. Unfortunately, Sergey wasn’t with us, as Boris explained, but he (along with his three handlers) carried out regardless and delivered a version of ‘Wuthering Heights’ which made Kate Bush’s original look almost sane. It’s not often a puppet gets my attention so thoroughly (except for Avenue Q obviously) but Boris was wonderful and the actual show with Sergey – a sort of “Who’s Line is it Anyway” for puppets sounds like it will be a riot.
And, looking at the program for the festival as a whole that pretty much sums up the next two weeks under the station. There are fantastic acts from the UK and across Europe, some performing for the first time over here, and I think I can safely say there is something for everyone. It’s a festival where you can go with your friends, see different performances then meet up in Pi’s Bar to discuss what you have just seen – realise you want to go to that as well and get it booked for the next night. I can see people virtually living down there making sure they see everything that is on offer.
One word of advice, allow an extra 5 or 1-0 minutes when you arrive to really appreciate the graffiti on Leake Street – it’s officially approved so you won’t feel guilty about looking. There are some wonderful street artists out there and it’s well worth a look before entering The Vaults and having every bone in your body gloriously entertained.
By Terry Eastham
Festival Mimetic Festival 2014
Performance Dates Tuesday 18th – Saturday 29th November 2014
Tuesday – Saturday from 6.30pm
Bar open from 6.00pm (till late)
The Vaults, Leake Street, London SE1 7NN
Programme details at: