on Sunday 7.1.01
The mind's eye gets another serious work-out in Shunt's
offering, The Ballad of Bobby François, sited under a railway arch
at London Bridge. Here the mood is distinctly macabre. Who remembers the 1972
air crash when a rugby team's charter plane came down in the Andes? Certainly
anyone who saw Shunt's show at the Edinburgh Festival. Actually, "saw"
isn't quite the word. "Did" is more like it; for punters unwittingly
find themselves fellow passengers on the doomed Fairchild F-227. And the crash
becomes horribly real. Gemma Brockiss, a cast member, says people often swear
and scream at the critical moment. "It's only done with sound and lights,"
she explains, "but people do take the crash subjectively. Imminent death
is hard to get your head round."
Famously, few of the Andes crash victims survived the 70-day
wait for help, and those that did survived by eating the dead. Shunt's ambitious
piece asks spectators to consider the etiquette of survival and the implications
of cannibalism in civilised society. "There is humour," encourages
Brockiss. "But it's pretty bleak. What interests us is the extremity,
and what brings people to that point. It's the imaginative journey that matters."
Festival directors take note. Journeys of the mind: is there
a more accurate title in there somewhere?
(International Mime Festival @ The Drome, Stainer Street, London SE1)