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Voila! Europe 2021

Voila! Europe 2021 is a fantastic annual festival that is now in its 9th year running produced by London's Cockpit Theatre. The festival brings together artists from across Europe to showcase their work with some performances happening live in the theatre and some being streamed online. 

The multilingual festival offers crossed-cultural, cross-disciplinary performance and opens a window in the wonderful world of theatre that happens beyond our shores.

I was lucky enough to get to view 3 of the productions that have been streamed online with my reviews below.

I Am ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Presented by Kupalaucy Independent Theatre Group from Belarus, I Am is a brilliant documentary piece of theatre that is based on real childhood stories tells about the youthful time we all experience that never returns but stays with us forever. 

It's a gorgeous performance expertly performed by 4 actors, Valiancina Harcujeva, Kryscina Dbrobysh, Pavel Astravuch, and Ivan Kushniaruk, who are magnificent and carrying the right feeling of each scene. They are tremendously touching to watch.

The early sequence as the youngsters are dropped off at creche for the first time, the fear and worries as they all call out for their mothers is a particularly effective moment as they all feel like they're being left forever as they cry out and was the one scene amongst the brilliance that stood out the most.

The whole piece is quite moving, with music carrying as much emotion as the actors as it undercurrents scenes and scene changes. It's staged really well and captured well from the performance space in Minsk, Belarus. There's some dazzling video work too. An outstanding piece. 

I Am.

Deserted Shores/Negative Photographs ⭐⭐⭐⭐

GalataPerform brings their production Deserted Shores/Negative Photographs to the festival. This play performed in Turkish with English subtitles tells of a woman (Kübra Balcan) who imagines a family gathering that never happened after a tragedy that is connected to the uneasy political atmosphere in Turkey in the 1990s. 

The play is beautifully captured on film with tremendous performances from the 5 cast members. The play was designed during the COVID-19 period especially for filming which allows for the use of varied locations. 

Sure, the piece is a little surreal but it's enticing and engaging. The language is poetic and cleverly written by Ferdi Çetin, the language creates real imagery in itself with Yeşim Özsoy clever weaving her directorial magic wand and creating a cinematic feel to this performance. The use of sound cleverly underscores and allows for an atmosphere to be created that carries throughout the performance.

Being a piece about connection and loss it hits home differently from how it may have done before the pandemic. It's melancholic and touching. The final sequence on a beach and in the sea is particularly powerful with the outstanding Balcan giving a star performance throughout. Superb.

RadioLove ⭐⭐

RadioLove produced and presented by Studio Total Finland offers an absurd piece in German with English subtitles.

The piece opens with Janis, the radio host, bringing out props and setting the stage with a large radio in the middle of a table. Janis wears a large bunny head and beings to shave carrots, all before a word has been spoken. 

Janis hosts a radio show where people who are feeling lonely can call in and talk about their feelings of love and being alone. It's a good concept but at 70 minutes I found the piece a little heavy going and my attention began to wander as the piece went on.

It is all a little bizarre visually in truth but is fantastically lit and the score underlays the sequences well. Sadly this was just was not for me.

Radio Love.

If you're quick the three productions are available on-demand until December 1st from Head to the Cockpit website for further information and to sign up for a mailing list for the 2022 festival.

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