Venus Labyrinth: Cantabile 2
Concept & Director - Nullo Facchini
CONFLUX, part of SURGE festival
The Arches, Glasgow
I was very thankful that the brains behind this ambitious piece of art had the sense and heart to have a 'Decompression Room' so that you had time to pull yourself together and talk to fellow explorers of the Labyrinth before returning to the world outside.
The Venus Labyrinth is 28 rooms, each containing a solo performance piece by a female performer, inspired by the brain's 28 known areas. It feels like an asylum, white walls and orderlies in white directing you around, but you quickly adjust to these quiet austere surroundings.
With the rooms themselves, not only do you get to choose where to go, but the performance in the room is just for you. Like Aladdin though you are limited to a wish list of three. Mine were Sexuality, Speech and Balance, the choice though is not direct, you pick a sentence suspended from a string, and a lady called the oracle gives you a map explains to which room you must go.
At first the limit seemed frustrating, but it is necessary, such is the intensity of the performances, seeing all 28 would probably put you in a real asylum. The limit also makes your experience special, and is presumably a reminder that in life one can't do everything, choices must be made. Three was quite enough for me in the end.
While the hallways and corridors were clinical, the rooms were something else, little pockets of the weird and wonderful and inhabited by captivating performers. The three I met gave quite different performances, but all very much involved me in what they were doing, they told their story but also sought my help and created a bond that gave you a strange feeling of strength and warmth as you left.
While Sexuality and Speech were quite strongly linked to their titles. Sexuality was cosy and intimate and couldn't have been in starker contrast to Speech which was a story of abuse told in a cold desolate place. Balance, I only realised the connection after, it was such a moving and involving piece I was too busy holding back the tears to think about it at the time.
This journey through this maze of white corridors, passing by many others with maps in hand on their own separate journeys, really did create something of being in a brain. As I sat in the Decompression Room with a tissue afterwards I felt kind of vulnerable, it is a very personal experience, but it does make you feel kind of more human.
Reviewer: Seth Ewin