Review: Tate Cambridge
Brought to you by The Tab, not anyone else.
Well. Where do we begin?
Emerging from the murky, modernistic depths of the English Faculty, I wondered what to make of this colourful patchwork of immersive comedy, brought to you – as we are informed – by parody, not The Tate.
Had I to describe it in one word, I would probably choose “outrageously playful”, because I like pushing boundaries. The immersive comedy did indeed make for an excellent ‘parody’ of high art, with a cast of colourful (geddit? Cos it’s like, art and shit), caricatures to boot.
However, the characters were so enjoyable that, once the weirdness of being in an art gallery had sunk in, they became the basis of the comedy of the show. The scripted interplay between the overzealous security guard, played by Zoe Higgins, and the fascistic curator (Sarah Wilson) was not only highly entertaining, but also helped keep what could otherwise have been a directionless show together.
Being a piece of immersive comedy, audience participation was of upmost importance. On the whole, the actors dealt with it well and consistently remained in character. Both Higgins and Wilson did flounder occasionally (in fairness, they did have to spend the most time with the audience), but there were a host of supporting actors ready to smoothly take the baton.
Of particular delight was Isobel Cockrell’s spoof of the Yugoslavian performance artist Marina Abramovic, “Malina Babramovic” – confidently characterised, her forced intimacy did an excellent job of making the audience uncomfortable. But in a funny way.
However, my personal favourite was Michael Zacharias the rice artist, whose pretentious, laid-back demeanour just sort of said ‘art’ to me, you know. Like, ‘this is art’. His improvisation was extremely natural, engaging the audience but not asking too much of them.
The set was well designed, with hidden gems befitting an art gallery littered all over the place. You could take an audio tour of the exhibit; you could visit the gift shop; you could even break into the curator’s office and read her correspondence with the security guard. There was a cinema room. There was rice. It was jokes.
The show was not perfect – as I’ve said, sometimes the actors floundered, sometimes the script was stretched too thin or a joke repeated too often – but overall, the energy, playfulness and inventiveness of the piece pulled it through. I left happily questioning the nature of reality; bemused but amused.
71% – Scraping a first: could have been tighter, but a damn good show.