The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
Can experimental theatre also connect emotionally?
The Zero Hour, the new show by Imitating The Dog, provides an affirmative response by satisfying both the specialist and general theatregoer.
Andrew Quick and Peter Brooks have created a clever production in which the audience watches a two-man Chinese film crew recording a movie about three couples living through different versions of the same historical events in the final hours of World War II in Berlin.
The live action is projected in real time onto a cinema screen and is combined with pre-recorded film, animation and computer-generated imagery. Key scenes are repeated in line with director's cuts and with slightly different outcomes from English, German and Russian perspectives.
Some of the acting and delivery has the deliberate hamminess of period films which, when combined with a highly fragmented storyline, initially distances the audience from the action. But the interrelated narratives and relationships slowly draw them in during the course of this 80-minute one-acter.
The lack of interval heightens the cinematic feel, as does some of the projection work. The repeat motif of a murmuration of swallows is especially beautiful, reflecting humanity in the midst of atrocity for each of the couples.
It's this ability to combine an emotionally connecting, if impressionistic, storyline, with stunning cinematography that makes this production special.
If some of the company's productions place experimental ambition over satisfying cohesion, then The Zero Hour justifies and finally fully delivers on that ambition.
Tours until autumn, details: www.imitatingthedog.co.uk.