Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Siro-A - review

Written by: Wendy Haines (@Wendyfer1)

Leicester Square Theatre, London

Technologically experimental group Siro-A call themselves the next generation of entertainment. Originating from Japan, many declared their self-titled spectacle as “visually stunning” at the Edinburgh Fringe, and this is true, but in terms of artistic content it is not much beyond “Ooh look at the pretty lights!” A blend of clever visual manipulation and repetitive electro beats, it’s difficult to determine what it leaves you with.

The visual challenges are split into episodic sections, most of which are applause-worthy. One of the company’s aims is to blend the real and the virtual. This aim is achieved, markedly in an episode where the audience is presented with the performers and their pixelated counterparts. As they alternately weave through frames of fabric, discerning between the two becomes difficult. It’s a standard statement about the terrifying advancement of technology, but done with skilful efficiency.

Projection underlines the entire piece. The way the performers interact with it is impressively precise, using adaptable surfaces as tools to capture moving images and even alter their own appearance. At times you feel as if you’re sitting in a Gameboy; at one point Mario and his mushrooms even make a cameo. The two Disc Jockeys bobbing awkwardly in the background can be distracting; they look a little silly, and you half expect the room to become a rave at any moment.

Charming moments of comedy are common, adding at least one extra layer to the storming laser extravaganza. The prologue to the piece involves a camera covering the audience, projecting embarrassing caricatures onto their bodies. There’s no clear purpose for this other than to be cheeky, but sometimes that’s just fine. The best sequence was the casual biography of company member Abe Toshinori, whose life was briefly deconstructed on stage.

The only element that gives grievance is the music; an incessant barrage of electro pop/dubstep accompanies the performance. Flaunting an ignorance of dynamics, the soundtrack crudely bashes your skull in until you’re forced to wrap a scarf around your ears. They say if it’s too loud, you’re too old. Anyone in this theatre is going to feel geriatric. The prioritization of sheer impact over quality is disappointing and only leaves you mourning for music that can be affecting on a non-violent frequency. The aggressive tone is mismatched with the rest of the piece – it’s an unwelcome contrast.

It is a shame, because the dancers are actually very good when they get the chance to showcase themselves. There are lots of delightful little tricks based around switching between real objects (often bouncy balls) and projections, which hint at magic. Charging fifteen pounds for this one hour show is a little rich, although the costs are clearly visible. Advising whether or not to go is troublesome as there is an element of hypnosis. When you leave, you know you’ve got a headache, but anything else is a mystery.

This production runs until 22nd April 2013.
For more information: http://www.siro-a.co.uk/
@LSQTheatre @SIRO_A_

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