Mayfield Depot, Manchester – until 21 October 2018
Guest reviewer: Daniel Shipman
With Everything that happened and would happen, MIF stages another trailblazer event designed to give us a taste of what we can expect from The Factory. Created by Heiner Goebbels, this work is ambitious, experimental and impressively large-scale. Ostensibly based around the history of 20th century Europe, the piece has very little recourse to concrete meaning, preferring instead a poetic approach to history.
Goebbels’ background in contemporary music is evident here. The sounds range from harsh and abrasive to hypnotically beautiful. There is perhaps too much of the former and not enough of the latter for my taste, but maybe that’s just me. Either way, all are totally suited to the huge, atmospheric surroundings of Mayfield Depot and make full use of this wonderful space and its unique acoustics.
Visually, the performance never quite lives up to its full potential. However, the audience is treated to flashes of brilliance with tunnels of smoke and light, chaotic layers of huge draped cloths, and an especially beautiful final section on the roof of the venue with huge folds of cotton flowing in the autumnal breeze. The pitch darkness and size of the venue allow for some fascinating interplay between shadow and light, but very little colour is brought in over two and a half hours, so I soon found my eyes getting bored.
The fact that the conclusion of the performance takes place on the roof of the Mayfield Depot surrounded by Manchester’s night skyline serves as a pertinent reminder that the Europe we have seen repeatedly built and destroyed throughout the course of the evening is not an abstract concept, it is the foundation of the world we live in. As the cast disperses into the crowd and the realisation dawns that the piece is over, the audience slowly slides back into the real world again.
Perhaps it is no surprise that a show titled Everything that happened and would happen sets expectations too high for itself. Reading the programme, it is obvious that a huge amount of intelligent work has gone in to this performance, it just seems to have strayed a little too far from its source material to still affect and entertain those not involved in the creative process.
Everything that happened and would happen runs at Mayfield until 21st October 2018.
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