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Caroline Bowditch – Falling in Love with Frida – Review

Falling in Love with FridaI think I was already a bit in love with Frida Khalo. Her art expresses her life and through her paintings and her voluminous written materials we have insight into her personality. Dark and brooding, sultry and self-obsessed, manic and convivial; her life story is compelling and captivating.

It’s easy to see how performer Caroline Bowditch has been drawn to her and inspired to create a tribute to her. The performance is humorous, touching and at some points titillating. We the audience may have come for the love of Frida but we are fickle creatures and are soon falling for Caroline Bowditch.

The simple set at Sadler’s Wells Lillian Baylis Studio represents Frida Khalo’s native Mexico with minimal props and maximum music. As we enter and settle we are played music from Frida’s personal collection. The moods of the music change as frequently as Frida’s did and it is easy to imagine her creating, entertaining and relaxing to these pieces. The scene is set and Caroline Bowditch, with the aid of her fellow performers, explores the associations she feels, through words and movement. But first Tequila! Toasts to the evenings muse with Tequila before we begin our journey.

Caroline wants to not only acknowledge Frida Khalo’s achievements but also her ability to create these works whilst living through Polio and disabilities caused by a horrific accident. Along with a tumultuous personal life Frida was known as the ‘heroine of pain’ and through her own disability and obvious love of life Caroline Bowditch has found a kind of soul mate and inspiration in Frida Khalo and has fallen in love. She wants to share how these feelings affect her.

It has happened to us all; we read a book, see a film or see a piece of art and feel that the artist is speaking directly to you. Caroline has celebrated her moment by producing a performance to share with others to express how Frida makes her feel. There are beautiful words, heartfelt and touching; sometimes sad, sometimes funny, always provocative. The accompaniment of a signer is maintained in a character that also fully embraces and participates in the performance. The 4 cast members use powerful physical moves to express the many different aspects of Frida’s character; expressing madness, anger, frustration, love and fragility amongst the rainbow of emotions.

The performance is raw and fresh and very personal. Caroline does not shy away from any comparisons comparing everything from living as an artist with a disability, to her love of adventure and sexuality (a very lascivious scene with a slice of watermelon leaves little to the imagination!). We are left with no illusion. Caroline Bowditch loves Frida Khalo, loves live, loves the world, loves herself and encourages you to do the same. She speaks of her pride in making an impression on one person; with this performance – consider us impressed!

4 stars

Review by Rachel Borland

After a sell-out run and a Herald Angel Award at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe, Caroline Bowditch presents Falling in Love with Frida, an intimate and enticing performance exploring the life, love and legacy of painter Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954).

The work is a reclaiming of a disabled artist, a love-like obsession, and an enquiry into how we shape what we are remembered for and how much we can really control others’ memories of us. It exposes many little-known facts about the infamous woman, remembered for her art. Where affinities and parallels are drawn, happy distractions are employed and a tale of ‘the great concealer’ is skilfully revealed by and through powerful yet fragile bodies.

Caroline Bowditch – Falling in Love with Frida – Sadler’s Soundbites

Lilian Baylis Studio
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R
5 & 6 October 2015
http://www.sadlerswells.com

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