Amongst the performances I have had the pleasure of watching at the Bristol Old Vic, there have been a few that have really stood out; Thursday’s performance of BAAL was one of these. Perhaps because I studied Brecht and his unique style of theatre whilst at alevels, I found myself more critical than in previous performances, watching intently to see how Impermanence interpreted the piece. They did well. Combining their dance, with more Brechtian techniques they created a performance full of extreme physicality and raw emotions, depicting the lust, greed and violence which corrupt and drag us down.
The physicality used throughout this performance was beautiful, aesthetically pleasing and used in every way possible to reflect the emotions and thoughts of the dialogue and characters. Pain, suffering, greed and anguish were all reflected in the actors’ entire bodies, as they writhed and groaned physically. They incorporated duets and lifts with ease, seamlessly weaving together a thought-provoking adaptation. At the end of the performance it was clear they were all exhausted, a sign that they had put their all into this production.
In-line with Brecht, they used narration rather than dialogue within the performance, distancing the audience from the characters, allowing us to remain emotionally separated and thus appreciate the social commentary they aimed to depict. One thing that was unfortunate however, was that at points the microphone did not work, and words were lost so that it was harder to follow the story-line of Baal, although the feelings were still effectively conveyed physically.
Overall I cannot say that this was one of my favourite performances, or that I would see it again but it was certainly an excellent example of a physical theatre performance.