Brighton Fringe 2023
Kooky, bold and beautifully executed by the talented Nikolina Majdak. This is an hour of movement in motion, exhilaratingly ludicrous physical theatre and abstract sound. This piece was inspired by ‘The Madwoman of Chaillot’, extracting the essence that “To be alive is to be fortunate” no matter what evil comes your way! This one woman show transports you on a journey of visual discovery – As we observe the sheer chaotic life of our leading heroine, trying to find the beauty in her existence whilst combating external forces (some positive, some negative) that present themselves through different art forms. This show will surprise and amaze you as Majdak reminds me of a visual Rubik’s Cube, interchanging between different convulsions of impressionable movements in synchronicity with just one oversized bag! Her use of object manipulation will not leave you disappointed; the dedication to this level of phantasm was simply awe-inspiring.
If Steven Berkoff, Kate Bush and Bjork manifested a visionary spectacle – This would be the result – An attack of the senses, full of visual, intricate, simply bonkers play that leaves you wanting more. This is one of a series of works directed by Lee Delong this Fringe – and this doesn’t disappoint!I will never look at free standing tents and over-sized bags again without thinking of this surrealist performance – This is a must see!
Initial responses, Obligation is simply a sensory spectacle of object manipulation as Majdak rolls on to the stage, literally in her world, her home – her over-sized bag! As the piece transcends we then experience a modern take on Mary Poppins’ bag, as the heroine moves effortlessly into different formations – Which will have you questioning, how did she do that? Where did that come from? This allegory elegantly presents the audience with the heroine’s frantic world/home that she tries to protect at all costs. Supporting the mood of this elegant piece is the musician Lucija Stanojevic, who creates the under-score for the show with supporting sounds – similar to Delong’s other series of works, which is a stroke of genius when devising these movement sequences. I particularly enjoyed when the performer and musician interacted just briefly when Majdak sprayed Stanojevic with her water bottle for her plants – to symbolise her care and thought for her plants and ‘us’ the artist – We too have to grow!
This piece is a rush for the senses, as we’re transfixed by the heroines ‘Alice in Wonderland’ curious, yet innocent nature. I particularly enjoyed, Majdak’s approach towards the pop up tent, again seeming so random, yet beautiful how she manoeuvres through this item – both through love and strife. The movement sequences must have taken hours to prepare, seeming effortless yet extremely skilled to align with no visible mishaps. This tent not only becomes her curiosity, but transcends into an object that engulfs her – dancing one minute, then suffocating her the next.
Majdak’s sheer convulsion of heightened elongated sounds and absurd facial expressions had me in stitches of laughter the whole way through! I feel Delong’s choice to ‘strain’ the heroines voice in the performance almost seeks to express her giving up, slowly becoming oppressed by her mere existence, losing control – This was a stunning moment, funny initially then highly uncomfortable; how things you enjoy in life simply do not transpire how they used to. The brief appearances of ‘man in suit’ played by Mario Milicic was a welcomed comedic touch, always present, lurking in wings to support the narrative – I would have liked to have seen this role develop more within the piece, as at points his presence seemed effectively utilised for transitional stages in the heroine’s life but perhaps this could have been enhanced further?
One could not be prepared for the beautiful use of white netting that was a definite highlight in Majdak and Delong’s surrealist collaboration – the net just kept on coming, gaining ‘space’ – becoming a visual ‘mise-en-scène’ for the audience. This careful placement and control of the fabric by both Milicic and Majdak, allowed us to see, like moths, we all get attracted to the light – but that light is dangerous. What will happen to our leading heroine of Chaillot? Will she reconnect to her former self – Go and see to find out!