Thursday, February 22

Don’t Leave Me this Way – Voila Festival

‘Don’t Leave me this Way,’ by Zoo Indigo is part of Voila Festival, an annual celebration of European theatre set in the shadow of Brexit which seems a million light years away in the current climate of the pandemic. As we know theatre and the arts have been severely compromised so they are having to adapt.

Their performance was pre-recorded in the Cockpit Theatre in London’s Marylebone. We are encouraged to turn up the brightness of our computer screens preshow as it is a little dark due to being recorded in a theatre. I felt uncomfortable when they told us what a watch party is as most people are aware of this.

Rosie and Ildiko, are the Anglo-German duo who make up Zoo Indigo and explore their heritage tonight in a two woman show alongside the talented Rob the violinist. A fantastic addition to have live music and it really added to the mood.

This is a sometimes quirky and light-hearted view, sometimes serious where we hear about Hungary, Ireland and Germany as the actors skulk seductively from behind their personal catwalk curtains and seduce us with synchronized, singing, plus anecdotes from their native motherlands.

Part zany quiz, part Eurovision song contest, they are pitted against a flurry of inventions, music, recipes and culture from their prospective roots. This is presented in a very cinematic Marlene Dietrich style which juxtaposes against some challenging dialogue.

It does give food for thought and raises some important questions around identity. A backdrop of suitcases projected on screens sits alongside the curtains. The multimedia set was simple yet powerful, it fitted it with the edgy and unease of the show. It’s a shame because Don’t Leave Me this Way definitely lost some of its atmosphere through the screen. There’s a heart rendering moment when Rosie mentions her mother’s traumatic experience of xenophobia and being slung a torrent of abuse and made to eat mud on her hands and knees which hits hard. Then we have singing and talk of folk-dance lessons in Hungarian, as you must emerge yourself fully in the culture.

Reflections on blending and belonging where pervading themes that seems to be the message is of this performance. Certainly, it was intriguing and heartfelt. Zoo Indigo succeeds in bringing an avant garde and unique air to a subject that is relevant and always penetrates our societal fabric.

Reviewer: Rachel Foster

Reviewed: 20th November 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★