Review: FRUITS; Or The Decline of a Distant Memory, VAULT Festival

An acoustic nightmare makes FRUITS; Or The Decline of a Distant Memory too much of a challenge for me at VAULT Festival

“Who drops a watermelon?”

There’s a moment midway through TAKDAJA’s FRUITS; Or The Decline of a Distant Memory where a performer lets rip an almighty primal scream. I kinda knew how they felt as the show takes place in the Cavern whose horrendous acoustics, acerbated by a miked up company, meant that I could make out about 1 word in 10, if that. The show’s dreamlike ethos notwithstanding, nor its multilingual nature, it feels like a big accessibility issue, a bit of a shame given TAKDAJA’s efforts to address other forms of access throughout its short run.

So it’s a tricky show to write about for me, as my deafness meant I felt distanced (people around me were laughing a lot so it is clear that at least some people understood what was going on). All I can respond to is the visual stimuli of a highly creative endeavour and an entirely unconventional theatrical approach. Balloon popping, games of pat-a-cake, Eve herself, courgette grating, a requiem for an overripe banana, the revelation that I was apparently carrying a baggie of coke…there’s a lot going on.

The offical blurb reveals there’s “three entities that are stuck in the midst of space and time search[ing] for purpose by morphing into different characters” though that passed me by, and I don’t think it was just audibility problems that were the issue here. Performers Mimmi Bauer, Pat Dynowska and Michał Szpak make great use of the cavernous space here in Helen Hebert’s set design, aided immeasurably by Theodor Spiridon’s atmospheric lighting work.

But divorced from any ideas of the theatrical mainstream, the show feels a little too untethered, its vignettes just too ethereally unconnected for it to sit as an experience that connected with me on a visceral level. Notionally, queer Polish migrant work would very much be my (cherry) jam and perhaps in a different space, I might have developed some kind of emotional connection with the material (I bought into the live art-ish This Is The Land without a problem) for there’s some gorgeous imagery and serious intent here – I just want to feel like I can hear a bit more of it.

Running time: 1 hour (without interval)
Photo: Lidia Crisafulli
FRUITS; Or The Decline of a Distant Memory is booking at VAULT Festival until 5th March

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