Simon Grangeat, translated by Laure Fernandez and Legal Aliens
The Vaults (cage), Leake Street
Surely there were few who didn't cheer when they saw the film footage of people happily pulling down the East German Wall in 1989. Politicians across the West declared it a step forward for civilisation, even perhaps “the end of history”.
We see that footage early on in Closed Lands, which mixes dance, poetry, journalism and film to tell the story of how much in love with walls politicians in the West have become since the heady days of '89. What’s more, the show insists walls aren't just for keeping people out, they are also for keeping people in.
There is a lot of useful information in the production along with many brief entertaining and engaging moments, from the satirical speech of a cast member as Donald Trump, singing the praises of “the great wall” he is going to make Mexico pay for, to the video of the ex-Mexican President holding a placard saying, “Mexico will not pay for the fuckin wall”.
Yet the narrative (if one exists), is difficult to follow and some things such as the dancing, seem to have no purpose beyond distracting us. Indeed so bewildered was I by the cast raising plates of chopped vegetables, I asked the reviewer sitting beside me what she made of it. Recalling our recent experience of the play Meat, she said, “at least they are not throwing it at the walls.”
Trouble is, they might well have done for all the meaning it carried. Let us pull down all border walls, if that is the message, but if that message is to become a show, it needs a better presentation and script.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna