The Unicorn theatre is renowned for working with young artists, inspiring young people through ‘performance on their own terms’. Their current production is Wild Life FM a devised piece of performance art produced by The Unicorn theatre and Campo Arts Centre. The piece runs at about an hour and the production I saw was also being broadcast on resonancefm.com as well as being played out in front of an audience.
Wild Life FM is an ensemble piece devised, created and written by Pol Heyvaert and Kim Noble based on cast and their stories. The piece is performed by 9 very talented aspiring musicians aged between 15 and 21. The age guide for the production is 14+ due to the strong language and sexual references within.
Those of you who have read my reviews before know that I LOVE performance art, the ability to blend performance mediums and produce a statement piece that makes me question life. Wildlife FM is a perfect example of this, the piece looks at what it means to be young in 2017/2018 and how one navigates life. Each of the cast members have their own foibles, views, and a way of attacking life. We learn their stories through the medium of music.
What I found really interesting and wonderful to watch was the way they took a personal story, in this instance a drunk girl kissing a guy outside Poundland, and changing the narrative by putting it to music, namely a love song. Watching how narrative changes through various storytelling initiatives is one of my favourite “postmodern performance techniques” and I never tire of this. Hearing lyrics in another language automatically makes something sound romantic, even if what is being sung is raw, base and not romantic in the least.
The production reminded me of early Tim Etchells/Forced Entertainment productions; table centre stage with people reading personal stories on microphones, however, the paper is now a MacBook and there are fabulous visuals projected onto a screen behind the performers enhancing their dialogue and giving depth to their words. My favourite being their use of Google’s search engine – I’ll not go into details, but I ask you not to laugh at their Harry Potter search.
The piece is interactive, but there is nothing for a potential audience member to be scared of, the cast are more interested in telling their stories than embarrassing the audience. One or two members of the audience will be spoken to, but again the focus is on the questioner and not the audience member.
If you’ve never been to a piece of performance art, Wild Life FM is a perfect piece to watch because it has a low barrier of entry, it is inspiring, self-deprecating, heartfelt and very entertaining. The performers are hugely talented and it’s exciting to hear their voices in an unconventional way.
I left the piece with a big smile on my face, I will seek out the radio broadcast and I shall be recommending this production to my friends, I may be 40 but the topics they talk about affect a single 40-something like me as much as a millennial!
My final word is to Orianna Page, one of the performers, I too love Jon Bon Jovi, I do hope he takes you up on an offer of a ticket.
Review by Faye Stockley
This show is not going to be what you expect. It’s not a play. It’s not a gig. It’s also both of those things.
Nine musicians from London and Norfolk join performance artist Kim Noble, director Pol Heyvaert (CAMPO, Belgium) and musician Jakob Ampe to create this new piece for 2018: an honest, raw exposition of what it’s like being young today. A live radio show on how to discover yourself through music.
A new collaboration between CAMPO (Before Your Very Eyes, Next Day, Five Easy Pieces) and the Unicorn.
The performers are Tynet Monet Adewole (15), Michael Arhin-Acquaah (16), Megan Blair (18), Justin Campbell (20), Noah Horne (20), Malachi Alfred Lecky (18), Maria Olejnik (21), Oriana Page (16) and Poppy Read (17).
Age guide: 14+ (may contain strong language and sexual references)
Duration: Approx 1 hr 10 mins (no interval)
Directed by Pol Heyvaert
Devised by Pol Heyvaert, Kim Noble and the cast
Musical direction by Jakob Ampe
Unicorn Theatre 147 Tooley Street London SE1 2HZ