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Posts Tagged ‘Bryony Kimmings’

The National has a track record in the audacious use of musical theatre, though it’s often in co-productions or originated elsewhere. Jerry Springer, London Road and Here Lies Love come to mind. This latest is a co-production with Complicite Associates. Performance Artist Bryony Kimmings seems to have got her commission from Complicite before she got her subject or its specific art form. That came from discussions with her producer Judith Dimant, who was living with cancer at the time, and her research started by accompanying Judith on her treatment journey. They ended up with a musical that explored the subject through one day with NHS patients and hospital staff.

Emma leads us on our stage journey. She’s taking her baby son for tests. Along the way we meet five other patients of differing ages with different cancers facing different issues and we learn what they want and what they get that they don’t want. The song and dance at first seems a bit incongruous, but you get more comfortable with it as it progresses. The stage is occasionally invaded by cancer cells, people in costume and inflatables that enter through doors, windows and vents as they inflate. It isn’t as dark as you might expect, until after the interval when we experience Emma’s son’s diagnosis through hospital sounds and then understand the relationship between the staged stories and the research, before we finally meet one of the people actually living with cancer and are invited to make any personal connections known if we wish.

By the interval I wasn’t sure where it was going or what I thought of the journey, but it ended up convincing me, moving me and making me realise I’d learnt quite a lot too. I don’t think it’s entirely successful, but I have a lot of respect and admiration for its bravery and experimentation.

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