JOYCE MCMILLAN on VENIZKE (Victoria/Campo at the Tramway, Glasgow) for The Scotsman 18.4.09

3 stars ***

IN MANY WAYS, I wish I could tell you that this latest show from the acclaimed Belgian avant-garde companies Victoria and Campo was a piece of nonsense, deserving of no notice at all.  I wish it because this show has perhaps the most deeply dislikeable first half ever seen on the Tramway stage, involving a half-hour self-obsessed monologue of roaring, camp complaint about the state of contemporary theatre in Europe, and a series of truly revolting and depressing confessions of sexual decadence.

But, dammit, I’m afraid that’s not all there is to it.  For a start, wherever the script of Venizke irritates and disgusts, there’s something in the show’s design, music or dance – delivered with deceptive casualness by a brilliantly varied company of four women and two men – that’s strong enough to bring real tears of regret and exhilaration to the eyes, like shreds of creative energy or beauty pulled from the wreckage of a rotting civilisation; a glimmering model of the Eiffel Tower, a fabulous piece of wild choreography, a magnificent playlist that ranges from French chanson to Janis Joplin and Nirvana.  And around half-way through its two-hour length, after a brief, eloquent pause,  this show begins to gather its ideas into what gradually becomes a moving and boundary-pushing exploration – from the death of Jade Goody to the high style of Amy Winehouse –  of the meaning of fame and performance, in a society where so many now feel that their fate is either celebrity, or oblivion.


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