EFR - Reviews of HURT

HURT

Fri 3rd – Sat 11th August 2012

reviews

Laura Peatman

at 12:39 on 5th Aug 2012

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Aztikeria Teatro’s ‘Hurt’ certainly gave an insight into the variety of creative forces which emerge at the Edinburgh Fringe: if I can say nothing else about this show, I can definitely say it was unique. As the final video credits played and Melanie Borgez ran screaming from the room, leaving popcorn strewn all over the small stage, my overwhelming immediate reaction was one of confusion as to how to react to this ‘tragi-comical musical’; as I reflect on the performance now, it strikes me that Borgez’s performance was indeed an impressive one, yet much of my uncertainty remains.

The one-woman show comprises monologue, stop-motion film, music, dance and puppetry of a Barbie doll. My main issue with the performance is that there were too many forms of media here to let the emotional intensity that Borgez created last any significant length of time: moments of poignancy shifted too quickly into components that simply did not work. The first section of the show, in which Borgez speaks through the manipulation of a Barbie doll – dressed in an identical outfit to hers, showing some nice attention to detail – was marred by a spotlight that frequently failed to keep up with her movements; similarly the subtitles of the film sections were sadly unreadable, depriving the Barbie-and-Ken romance they portrayed of much meaning. Moments of apparent comedy fell flat, in part due to the repeated phrase of “I am not a racist” which was rather uncomfortable, but also due to a small and largely unenthusiastic audience who did not give much back to Borgez’s emotional investment.

The monologue sections of the show, in which Melanie shares with us her fragmented memories, insecurities and hopes and dreams, were by far the strongest. Yet just as Borgez was forming a connection with her audience, it was broken by a shift into the next phase of the show, be it dance or song or video: the emotional relationship was cut off before it had time to develop and grow.

This said, the final phase of the show did create an atmosphere of intensity and high emotional pitch. As Borgez descended from immaculate ballet dancer to wild-haired, crumbling performer, her skills and passion as an actress was evident in the genuine tears that streamed down her face. Her interaction and eye contact with the audience, and her sometimes confident and self-centred, sometimes starkly fragile characterisation was as times moving and heart-rending, and its effect lingered. Yet I’m not sure this was enough to rescue the fractured nature of the show which sadly undermined the talent of this performer.

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Chelsey Stuyt

at 14:46 on 5th Aug 2012

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Some shows you like, some shows you love, and some shows you hate. Then there is that odd one that doesn't quite fit into those categories. “HURT” is one of those shows. But I would say that the audience's feelings about the play are irrelevant. It is their feelings after the play that are being dealt with. I didn't like HURT. I didn't dislike HURT. But I felt it.

Melanie Borgez runs this one-woman show that creates a visceral experience, not a traditional story. Melanie begins the show with Veronika, a blonde ballerina Barbie, wedged between her breasts. Veronica narrates the first half of the show as she describes her perfect day. And indeed, Veronica becomes the box into which Melanie pours all of her dreams and desires for a perfect day. However, the ultimate decapitation of the doll through vigorous self-pleasure/pain creates one of the most gut-rending moments of theatre I've ever seen.

The show's tech was interesting and though I thought the projected stop-motion films offered a perfect counterpoint to Melanie's performance, I was unable to read the subtitles. This broke the flow and energy of the show and fell a little flat – especially when compared to Melanie's intense and dynamic performance.

The show is a difficult watch. At points she claws at her hair, asks an audience member to grasp her breasts, rips off her false eyelashes, and wraps a plastic bag full of popcorn around her head before tearing from the room screaming. By the end, the stage is in shambles and Melanie sits in a broken heap in the centre of it all. And that is the real strength of the show. The audience cannot avoid being affected by this performance – regardless of how painful the material. Whether is be a swipe of her doll, a cackle of half-mad laughter, or a smiling sashay across the stage, Melanie Borgez transfixes the audience and demands the attention that she so desperately craves. The show, though not enjoyable, is absolutely electrifying and utterly unforgettable.

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Comments

Yanni Clifford; 6th Aug 2012; 02:55:53

HURT, simply the best!

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