The Sunday Times 7.1.01
For the Mime Festival, Shunt are moving to a bigger railway arch, under London Bridge station, where they will present ‘The Ballad of Bobbby Francois’: a re-creation of a real life Andean plane crash and the cannibalism that ensued among the survivors. “It was either that or The Poseidon Adventure.” Says Shunt’s David Rosenberg. “And we were thinking of doing it as a rock opera. The idea was to make something about finding new rules when the pressure of the environment demands it, and about how people’s behaviour is able to change.”
Before we are introduced
to the table manners of anthropophagy, though, the audience has to shaken
up as much as survivors. There are no real spectators here – everybody
is a passenger on the plane, and had to experience the chaos, noise and
fear of the crash.
“There’s no telling how people will react” says Rosenberg. “It’s now a show for kids. We have claustrophobia warning signs up and we advise against it if you’re of a nervous disposition. But we on e octogenarian in a wheelchair and as things were falling on her she was whooping like it was a roller coater ride. Her son, who was pushing her along, didn’t like it at all.”
“Sometimes people try and leave during the crash but it’s complicated because there’s not really a way out at that point. Ringham chips in “There is, there is. It’s not that bad, There’s a playful aspect to the audience interaction, although there’s a lot of dark humour.” But Rosenberg is not to be deterred: “Yes, although sometimes we dispense with the humour altogether and it’s just dark. Hannah is very concerned with health and safety. The rest of us aren’t particularly”.
After the crash, the audience gets some breathing space, “We don’t expect them to participate” says Ringham, “They’re invited to be involved in the performance. They can move around, see different things. I hate it when people are forced to do something they don’t want to do, and I don’t ever want to be in a programme that tells you what to get out of it”.
(International Mime Festival @ The Drome, Stainer Street, London, SE1