Monday, 28 July 2014

Cargo, Lights... Action!!!!

85A's work is marked as much by their restless ambition as the collective's distinctive aesthetic style. Detached from their familiar surroundings - until a year ago, they defined The Glue Factory's performance programme - they emerged into the sunlight, presenting Cargo, Lights... Action, a show fit for all of the family and managing to make some sly asides at the commercialisation and compromises of the Commonwealth Games' cultural side-shows.

Essentially a cabaret with a story guided by MC and film director Rudolph Haagen-Dazs, Cargo, Lights... Action uses 85A's scenographic skills to build a set that became part of the show. A huge ship, built in the industrial style that is recognisable from their Chernozem immersive film set, is the backdrop to various acrobatic and dramatic routines. Meanwhile, the cast obstruct the audience with the apparatus of filming (cameras, lighting kit), deconstructing the process of both making a film and making a live performance.

Slowly unfurling its intelligent design - it only gradually becomes clear that the show has subverted a cabaret format - a twin narrative drives the action. Rudolph Haagen-Dazs is trying to make an epic film, which warns of the dangers of messing with the environment, while fighting his cast. Then there is the story of the film itself: a mad, poor sea captain wakes the Kraken by trying to steal his ink.

The political commentary is blunt and slipped in cheekily - the captain pays for his sins against nature, and a BP slogan is craftily added to his earth-rending machine to draw attention to the company's oil grabbing antic. Meanwhile, the director's speech against the evils of mankind talks of the exploitation of sport for profit.

But this is appropriate: Cargo, Lights... Action is a big, impressionistic show, suitable for the kids and with enough asides for adults without being patronising or compromising 85A's credibility. The DIY touches - waves worked by a cycling cast, the hand-made camera podiums moving in awkward ballet and the encouragement to the audience to act like a soundscape- are all reminders of how the collective excels when it makes art out of rubbish. 

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