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Depths of My Mind: a journey into the teenage brain – Review

SCARABEUS AERIAL THEATREWhat goes on in a teenager’s mind is probably an unanswerable question but one that Scarabeus Aerial Theatre is trying to answer with their immersive piece Depths Of My Mind at the Brit School down in deepest Croydon.

You enter a large, dark space to a pulsing electronic soundscape and are confronted by four transparent Perspex platforms which are approximately six feet by four feet and two feet off the ground.

Lying on each platform are the four performers but they’re not lying there for very long as for the next fifty minutes or so they climb poles, wrap themselves in cloth suspended from the ceiling, suspend themselves precariously from the platforms which have now been hoisted ten feet above the audience’s heads, interact with each other and twist themselves into anatomy defying shapes that makes the audience wince – well at least one member did!

Depths Of My Mind has echoes of Fuerzabruta which was performed at The Roundhouse a couple of years ago, Traces from the Canadian acrobatic group 7 Fingers and Cirque de Soleil (but without the pretentiousness). The bonus here is the immersive nature of the piece and the audience is encouraged to move around as each new piece develops, to sit on the floor or even lie under the platforms to watch the performers from a different perspective (or should that be Perspex-tive!) something this reviewer avoided as he might not have been able to get up again!

The actions of the performers were allied to a superb soundtrack with music from the likes of Nirvana and Patti Smith as well has some pulsating electronica. There were also projections on a large screen including videos of the performers baring their souls and telling us about their lives. A clever twist was a camera under one of the platforms which then projected in real time on the screen what was going on above it, adding another dimension to the performance.

The piece was inspired by the U-Change study led by scientists from the Neuroscience in Psychiatry Network so we had projections of the workings of a teenage brain as well as talk about neural synapses and cerebral cortexes. Collaborating with scientists to produce a creative performance might seem paradoxical but Wayne McGregor has recently been doing the same with his contemporary dance company so maybe this is a trend to watch out for in the future.

The four performers Antonio Harris, Hauk Pattison, Rachel Ni Bhraonain and Willow Vidal-Hall all deserve a pat on the back although a gentle one as they must be so sore after each performance that they’d want to avoid any further physical contact! They interact with each other whether as friends, rivals or lovers and keep the audience guessing as to what they’ll do next or where they’ll be.

So the question of what goes on in a teenager’s mind probably remains unanswered but Depths of My Mind entertains us as we ponder the conundrum. It’s on until Sunday October 2nd so get down to Croydon – you’ll have a great time whether you’re standing, sitting or lying on the floor!

4 stars

Review by Alan Fitter

We have a dream team of highly skilled cast of aerialists, actors and dancers for this tour,” says Daniela Essart, Scarabeus’ Artistic Director, who brings her formidable skills in aerial dance and physical theatre, stilt dancing and balance acrobatics and more to this truly exciting, mind expanding production.

Depths of my Mind’ combines aerial skills with visual theatre: “We’ll bring to life the latest developments in neuroscience and neuroimaging connected to the teenage brain to explore what it’s like to be changing and searching for somewhere to belong,” continues Daniela.

The set features cleverly designed transparent plexiglass platforms (see photos) ranged 7 metres above ground to enable audiences and artists to see each other; four characters – each a teenager, each with his or her own developing characteristics – discover what it’s like to grow and change, make friends, or not, feel isolated or loved, challenged or bored, stalked or ignored.

BRIT SCHOOL – 60 The Crescent, Croydon CR0 2HN
September 23rd 7.30pm
September 24th 3pm, 7.30pm
September 25th 1pm, 5pm
September 30th 3pm, 7.30pm (post-show discussion 8.45pm)
October 1st 3pm, 7.30pm
October 2nd 1pm, 5pm
Tickets: £13.50 – concs for under-18s; tickets from www.polkatheatre.com

FOREST ARTS CENTRE, WALSALL
October 13th 7.30pm
October 14th 2pm (workshop details here)
www.forestartscentre.co.uk

GULBENKIAN, CANTERBURY
November 13th 7.30pm
www.thegulbenkian.co.uk

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