Tag Archives: Birmingham mac

Cine Excess Festival presents: Siren @ mac

siren

Siren is probably one of the most beautifully shot American indie films to come out this year which is also harrowingly sleek and violent. The last showing for the Cine Excess Festival, and slightly less violent as its predecessors, it was all the more pleasant to end on this high.

The film follows the life of Leigh played by Vinessa Shaw, a woman who emits a scent which drives men to crazily fall in love with her. When they see her they don’t see Leigh but their own wonder woman in place of her, each man seeing a different woman in her, and all fall deadly lovesick for her leading to disastrous consequences both comic but disgusting too as we see with Carl (played by Ross Partridge). We see Leigh trapped in a house by herself, trying to keep tabs on potential visitors through her vast surveillance cameras around her property, and being swatted with flowers daily by her suitors which help mask her scent.

The narrative really thickens when Robert Kazinsky’s character Guy (Kazinsky who was a well known fixture in the popular show EastEnders) by chance arrives at Leigh’s house and is unaffected by her scent and both fall in love with each other. Without giving much away what follows is an exploration on what love really means and the effect our senses have on us and our actions and how quickly we resort to violence in order to get what we want.

Shaw’s Leigh has moments of charming class which light up the screen aided by the beautiful cinematography. Her naivety of her condition and her strength in fighting for herself is heart-warming. But all the more it’s a subtle statement of our time. The lengths she goes to protect herself, she has to send some of her essence (her blood) to perfume companies globally who distribute microscopic amounts of her to help sell their products and cause attraction. It’s a statement to our modern narcissistic qualities. Peyronel’s world where others strive to capitalise on beauty and being attractive, and where love all to easily leads to violent tendencies is creepily reminiscent to our current situations.

Maybe not the most deserving of being in a festival where violence is often full of blood-lust and psychological trauma, Siren is an easily watchable film which manages to keep you hooked subtly with is vigour and charm.  

 By Shantok Jetha

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Capital Theatre Festival: The Disappearance of Sadie Jones @ mac

sadie jones blogfestMeet Sadie Jones; unpredictable, unreliable, insane, and probably quite a lot like you.  Or so I was told by Elizabeth Crarer, who plays the complex character of Kim Jones, Sadie’s sister, in Hannah Silva’s disorientating new play, The Disappearance of Sadie Jones. I went to see this on the 20th November at the Birmingham mac, where it was showing as part of The Capital Theatre Festival, a movement that aims to give up-and-coming playwrights the opportunity to showcase their newest work.

The play tells the story of teenager Sadie Jones, her struggle with mental illness, and the impact this has on her family and friends. A form of ‘experience theatre’, the aim of the play was not necessarily to create a piece of entertaining narrative, but to present to the audience a challenging and thought-provoking piece of theatre. Silva beautifully combines the medium of flashing lights and sounds (namely, the motif throughout the play of a ticking clock, linking with an hourglass on the stage, one of the only props on a very minimalistic set) to create a disorientating and chaotic atmosphere. The format of the play is very intense; only containing three characters that remain in full view of the audience for the full hour-and-a-half provides a clever and acute insight into the mind of one person. The writing constantly switches between different perspectives and narratives, too – at one point, Sadie is describing her actions in the third person whilst simultaneously acting them out.

The play has echoes of a fairytale, containing the resurfacing symbols of apples, skulls and clocks; juxtaposing piles of human bone-strewn dirt with a kitchen sink and a box of cheerios (which, in a moment of rage, end up all over the floor). The dialogue is quick-witted and sharp, the actors often finishing each other’s sentences, creating a sense of urgency but also of unity between the three characters.

There is indeed a warm closeness demonstrated between Sadie, Kim and Danny, Sadie’s lover, and the idea of family ties, maternal care, and unconditional love pop up throughout the play. The relationship between Kim Jones and Danny is particularly poignant, beautifully and carefully crafted, creating a beautiful and touching dynamic of close friendship united through difficulty for the backdrop of Sadie’s descent into insanity. The character of Danny (played by Alan Humphreys) seems to act as a voice of reason over Sadie, and, in the apparent absence of any parent-figures, has a paternal-type concern for her and her actions, not just from a lover’s point of view – a touching and well-written aspect of his character.

The issue of mental illness is never explicitly mentioned, and only acknowledged once by Kim, who refers to “the last time the doctor saw Sadie”. However, at no point does Silva attach any sort of stigma to this illness, and even alludes to certain other forms of illness when regarding the seemingly ‘sane’ Kim and Danny – OCD for Danny, alcoholism for Kim – creating a commonality, drawing the characters even closer.

The narrative of the play comes full circle, the end scene seeming visually identical to the opening one – the three actors resume their original positions on stage and the initial dialogue is repeated. However, with our new sense of perspective, what at the start seemed meaningless and confusing, the audience are now able to find enlightening and touching. Perhaps this is what Silva meant when she said, in conversation with me after the play had finished, that she didn’t want to “spoon-feed the audience a story… I wanted their imaginations to work.”

Despite the feelings of confusion, disorientation and, at times, being downright uncomfortable (the ‘sink scene’ springs to mind, where Sadie (played by Stephanie Greer), dressed only in her white, sterilised and institutionalised underwear writhes on all-fours over the kitchen sink, pulling a long red string out of the end of the tap), The Disappearance of Sadie Jones was most definitely an experience, and, against my better judgement, I found a part of Sadie in me.

by Alice Cudmore