From Shakespeare to Dolly Parton, Berlin based performance collective, She She Pop inventively utilise cultural references of paternity to delve into the nature of father-child relationships. With their real life fathers on stage, they boldly ask all the awkward questions, from ‘will it be me or one of my siblings who inherits that family heirloom?’ to ‘why did you not go to university as we had planned?’.
These questions explode against the backdrop of Shakespeare’s King Lear, coaxing us into the rehearsal process as the group imagine how Lear’s treatment of his daughters translates in contemporary life and search for a happy intergenerational balance. With the assistance of graphs, screen projections and live videos, audience and performers explore together the relationship between love and money. Whilst Lear chose to split his kingdom according to which daughter loved him the most, Fanni Halmburger’s father Peter logically suggests that slowly handing over your belongings to your children in the years leading up to your death is a much cleverer way of optimising their love and gratitude whilst you are still alive. The only problem being, for this to be most effective, you need to know exactly when you are to die.
As these conversations unravel, a clear ‘us’ and ‘them’ is established onstage: the fathers all united by understanding what it’s like ‘lose one’s function and position in society’, the children, by the frightening prospect that their fathers may one day rely on them. She She Pop boldly ask – when the happy equilibrium between carer and cared for gets inversed – are we really inclined to move our parents in with us, to wash their feet and cook their meals?
Their answers can be intensely uncomfortable, exposing vulnerabilities in their relationships and creatively uncovering the tension of honesty in performance art. The result is an uncompromisingly true and personal production, which punches you with emotion and teaches us what we owe our parents, and how to forgive. Spectacularly inventive and beautifully orchestrated, Testament is not to be missed.
- Director: She She Pop
- Producer: Barbican and LIFT
- Cast includes: Sebastian and Joachim Bark, Fanni and Peter Halmburger, Lisa Lucassen, Mieke und Manfred Matzke, Ilia und Theo Papatheodorou
- Barbican Centre, London
- Until 7 June 2014
- Time: 19:45 (Running time: 2 hrs)
- Review by Martha Quigley
- 4 May 2014