Anima reviews

Kim Protheroe, The Argus
24 May 2011

“All too often as adults, we forget the pleasure that can be had in surrendering ourselves unquestioningly to an experience. Young children have no need of logical explanations and are happy to abandon themselves to the sheer joy of being in the moment.

In Anima, Yael Karavan and her brilliant company of international performers, the Karavan Ensemble, invite you to leave the everyday behind and go with them on a journey, an exploration of light and dark in a “magical feast”. From the moment company members welcome you into the garden of West Hill Hall, carrying a random array of household lights collected from around the city and weaving a long string of red wool around the trees, themselves and audience members, you’re captured in their otherworldly performance.

Inside, the ordinary community hall is transformed into a place of shadows, as the company combines dance, physical theatre, shadow play, mime and the wonderfully atmospheric music of Tristan Shorr, to explore their theme. There’s no clear-cut narrative, yet somehow stories emerge. In one playful and witty scene, four female dancers play out a surreal and competitive game of cards behind fine muslin curtains. In another, an anglepoise lamp stands in for a telephone, while others are transformed variously into a babe in arms, a playful puppy and a wayward vacuum cleaner, as the dancer tries vainly to maintain a sensible “phone” conversation.

Allow yourself to be entranced by this mysterious and luminously beautiful performance. And make sure you begin the adventure by taking the Big Lemon bus from outside the Corn Exchange to get there – it’s all part of the magic. “

Monica Perdoni, Latest 7
28 May 2011

Rating: 5 stars

“A vibrant performer on the Big Lemon Bus, entertained us with cheeky banter and kicked off our journey into the collective unconscious at the Westhill! There, under a maze of red yarn we then entered the twilight world that is Anima.

Lamps and local tales fused to create a theatrical theme for surreal scenes including a Victorian tea party, eerie shadow puppetry, delicate dance sequences, a babel of languages, and even the story of creation. Powerful and subtle, this piece from the Karavan Ensemble managed to convey through art a human experience not easily defined – transient and infinite like light! Magical.”

Joshua Feldman, The New Current
21 May 2011

“Bizarre, trancelike, surreal – only such a slurry of words can come close to capturing Anima. For just as the essence of dreams is lost through verbal description, here too we have a performance which ventures into the indescribable.

Even the journey there was strange. The audience met outside the Brighton Dome where we were ushered into a private bus by an animated French mademoiselle who was dressed like a circus showman. She spoke with a stereotypically broken accent – which she assured us was part of the act – and kept the whole crowd entertained with her eccentric charm.

We arrived at the venue – a little community hall close to Brighton station – where crazed women ran towards us with lampshades, and an offbeat band played absently from the rooftops. Soon after, we were guided into a darkened room, and the performance began.

Eerie music, jerky movements, languages we could not understand: Anima plunged us into its unintelligible depths. We watched as this bizarre cast of dreamers enacted their fantasies, using lamps to trail around the curtains, create images on the walls, and even to explore their own bodies. Light was certainly the central motif of the performance, and as something both natural and manmade it disclosed a symbolic significance. The drive seemed to be a return to carnality – groaned repeatedly through the microphone – and indeed to the anima, which, as the flyer informs us, is ‘the archetype of life itself’.

The experience was carnivalesque, hypnotic, and derealised: a non-sequential trip through the human psyche. The phrase ‘weird but wonderful’ springs to mind, as Anima was precisely that, so if you have a touch of the freakish about you, it comes highly recommended.”

Sophie London, Total Theatre

“As with last year’s popular A Ship of Fools, The Karavan Ensemble’s latest production begins in the centre of town with Marion Déprez conducting an impromptu conference with the oversubscribed audience before herding them onto the Big Lemon and keeping up her trademark barmy authority throughout the circuitous journey. Getting there is half the fun really.

Anima is concerned with light: the significance of the way we light our lives and the influence of lighting choices on a performance. In the absence of a traditional lighting rig, the show is illuminated entirely by lamps donated, along with a few stories, by the people of Brighton.

Those accustomed to the Karavan Ensemble will recognise characters and vocabularies of movement, deployed to different ends but distinct and familiar. Ringmaster and director Yael Karavan herself, however, is conspicuous in her absence. Bruno Humberto again leads the pack, acting as our conduit to the abstractions on stage and framing disparate scenes as an astronomer and a conductor….

Anima is filled with wonderful moments. There are so many concepts, genuinely creative, which are effectively realised, as well as engaging, entertaining characters, witty visualisations and striking vignettes …This is undoubtedly another strikingly original production with perfectly conceived sound design.”