Wednesday, 12 May 2010

EVERYTHING MUST GO Or the Voluntary Attempt to Overcome Unnecessary Obstacles

A Piece I wrote last September after seeing Everything Must Go in Edinburgh. It seems fitting to re-publish here as the show is now touring and deserves the attention...

The enthralling Kristin Fredricksson takes her audience on a journey through a personal, yet marvellously entertaining tribute to her father.

Graduating from Kent this year, Kristin has gone on to take her brilliant show created for her MA in Practice as Research to Edinburgh and has returned with outstanding five star reviews and widely acknowledged critical acclaim. Winning the Total Theatre award for Devised Performance and The Arches Brick Award, Edinburgh has opened up the opportunity to tour with Everything Must Go, journeying Kristin to The Barbican in London, The Theatre Royal in Bath and The Arches in Glasgow, as well as other upcoming venues across Britain next June. It is decidedly a performance not to be missed.

Within an installation format, representative of ‘her dad’s house’, the piece itself is a theatrical approach to documenting her father’s life, as Kristin describes; “I curate my dad’s art”. The structure and content of the piece is both reflective of her father’s personality and of the disruption one feels when they lose someone close to them. It is also a further experiment for Kristin about the blurring of the line between art and theatre. This is an installation that moves.
A highly eccentric character, Karl Fredricksson experienced life from an interesting and heart-warming perspective. From training for the Olympics to dressing up in drag, from inspiring a following of school boys as a teacher to his obsession with money saving schemes, there is no doubt that Karl’s life was anything except extra-ordinary. His attempts to pick up women through ‘facial dances’ and ‘lady lifting’ are hilarious conceptions and his ‘newspaper stealing shoes’ are equally as fascinating. His daughter relates to us through a montage of cinema, puppetry, costume, physical theatre and props just how varied and inconceivably remarkable his attitude to life was, and the effect left no audience member with a dry eye. When Kristin originally performed the show in the Aphra theatre on campus in June this year, her father would join her dancing on stage to bring his life story into the present. Witnessing the same scene as Kristin danced across the stage with a life size ‘Karl’ puppet whilst the footage from June was screened behind her was heart wrenching as you realise that he had since, sadly passed away. I asked Kristin how she had felt about continuing with the piece once her father was gone and she explained how for the first few performances in Edinburgh she had felt detached, leading her to create an almost ‘emotional warm-up’ before the show began. However, whilst the piece relies on Kristin’s emotional attachment to the character of Karl, do not be tempted to believe that the aim for Kristin was to dismantle her audience and leave them in a state of emotional despair; the piece is as unsentimental as they come. Kristin uses humour and careful structures of pace and rhythm to eliminate the feeling that she is provoking the audience to break down in tears. The tears come as a consequence of an enlightening experience of one man’s life, very simply laid before us through various techniques of storytelling. For this is what Kristin is doing; she is telling her dad’s story, which in itself is a beautiful thing.

Kristin is exhilarating to watch; we witness her bounce on a trampoline, hurdle across the stage, tap dance, dress up as her father and lip sync with a hanging basket on her head. Her energy is similar to that of a little girl; she is a comedic, likeable character and when we come to the end of our meeting with her we recognise that the same uplifting spirit we can see in Karl has lived on in his daughter. I wondered how scripted the performance was, as I felt I was just watching Kristin be herself on stage. To my surprise she answered that the entirety of the piece was scripted, and yet she delivers it so naturally and profoundly that it is difficult to believe this is not the first time these words are being spoken. In fact, Kristin as herself is thoroughly more subdued than we witness on stage; there is a distance between herself and her character.

Kristin has worked in theatre since she graduated with a degree in History of Art from University of Cambridge in 1994. Her previous work has been mainly based outside the UK in places such as France, Portugal and Japan; making it broad in its style and format. Training with Jacques Lecoq in the 1990s has given her a dance / acrobatics background, which has lead to work with puppets and consequently with props. The base of Everything Must Go is the props used which not only aid the performance, but actually enable it. Kristin described to me how often rehearsals would be long periods of time spent by herself with various items from her father’s house; a rather lonely process. The props were used as inspiration, which then lead to improvisation and eventually resulted in a piece of theatre that used basic house hold props in a brilliantly imaginative way.

This enticingly strange man is a joy to get to know, as is his daughter, so by the end of the show you feel you have made and lost a friend all in the same hour. An attachment to Karl is incredibly difficult to get away from or ever forget (not least because of the many cardboard cut outs of him that litter the stage by the end of the performance). This show is a must-see, so book your tickets soon to witness it in its full glory next month:

2 May 4pm, The Junction, Cambridge 01223 511 511
5 May 7.45pm, The Castle, Wellingborough 01933 270 007
10 May 9pm, The Pavilion, Brighton
3-15 May 8pm, Tobacco Factory Bristol 0117 902 0344
18-19 May 7.30pm, The Arches, Glasgow 0141 565 1000
21 May 7.30pm The Carriageworks, Leeds 0113 224 3801
26-30 May 5pm, Ruhrfestspiele, Reckinghausen, Germany +49 (2361) 9218-0
3 June 7.30pm, Theatre Royal Margate 01227 787 787
5 June 7.30pm, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich 01473 295 900
11-12 June 8pm The Ustinov, Bath 01225 448 844
16-26 June 7.45pm, Barbican Centre, London 020 7638 8891
30 June 7.30pm, West End Centre, Aldershot 01252 330 040