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Bat Night Market at LIFT 2024 | Review

Back in August 1981, there was some scepticism about the London International Festival of Theatre. Would London audiences accept the concept, and take up the opportunity to discover “theatre which has evolved from disparate cultural traditions”? More than 40 years later, the Festival has become one of London’s most important events and we can be forever grateful to Rose de Wend Fenton, Lucy Neal and Simon Evans for bringing it about.

Bat Night Market at LIFT2024. Photo credit: Ellie Kurttz.
Bat Night Market at LIFT2024. Photo credit: Ellie Kurttz.

LIFT2024 encompasses shows about big geopolitical issues like the future of democracy and colonial reconciliation as well as new imaginings of classics like Euripides and As You Like It, staged in venues like the Southbank as well as less familiar ones including The Dutch Church and the Old Bailey. It is all, of course, unmissable.

Bat Night Market is a collaboration between the multi-award-winning artist Kuang-Yi Ku and the designer Robert Charles Johnson, co-commissioned by LIFT and Taipei Performing Arts Center. It is on for four days at the Science Gallery so you don’t have long to experience this extraordinary show before it moves to Taiwan. Funny, playful, educational and (more or less) immersive, Bat Night Market takes you to a future free from bats which, blamed – rightly or wrongly – for the COVID-19 pandemic, have been subject to a global cull. Over ninety minutes, there are games to be played, facts to be absorbed and losses to be mourned. You get to visit a laboratory where an enthusiastic scientist briefs you on the success of various forms of cruelty-free, genetically modified “bat meat” – which you get to taste – and in a recreation of a communal table at a night market, albeit one staffed by androids, you have the opportunity to eat a quite delicious all-vegan version of sheng jian bao. It ends with a strangely moving little ceremony that will leave you pondering what it was all about and, more importantly, what you might do next…

And, of course, no bats are harmed before or during the production, and everything on offer is meat-free.

4 stars

Review by Louis Mazzini

Performers: Vinna Law, Steve Lok, Robin Khor Yong Kuan, Marian Lee, Diana Feng, Sigi Moonlight
BSL interpreter: Rachel Rebecca Jones

Lead Artists: Kuang-Yi Ku and Robert Johnson
Dramaturg: Ding-Yun Huang
Food Artist: Rain Wu
Scientists: Gemma Bowsher, Martha Gallardo Galaviz, Lucy Di-Silvio

Motion Graphics Director: Chia-Hua Lee
Motion Graphics Designer: Xuanjie Huang, Deer Sheng
Graphic Designer: Po-Chun Chou
Soundscape Design and Music: The Electronic and Produced Music Department, Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Music Director: Barbara De Biasi
Lead Sound Designer: Bronte Tucker
Composers: Oliwia Radomska, Tongyu Wu, Eleanor Fineston-Robertson, Annabel Brooks, Theo Lees.
Sound Designers: Oliwia Radomska, Taha Kagzi, Chester Tribley
Game Design Engineer: Chia-Hung Lin (Mick Lin)
Chef: Luke Keyte

Set in an imagined night market where bat species are extinct, Bat Night Market intersects performance, speculative design and science. We invite visitors to celebrate these enigmatic animals in an evening of discussions, games, tastings and sensory experiences.

10-12 and 14-15 June 2024
Science Gallery London
Presented as part of LIFT2024


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