Sunday, December 3

Wake the Dragon – St Luke’s Bombed Out Church

Wake the Dragon was a free event and part of Liverpool Ignitus Festival of Performing Arts and the event managed in partnership with St Luke’s Bombed Out Church, Bring the Fire Project, and Zest Event Management, and with funding from Culture Liverpool’s Without Walls scheme.

With a focus on wellbeing, the event was a platform for some of Liverpool’s finest performing artists and organisations to flex their creative muscle and do what they do best: perform and connect with their audience, this time with the added constraint of social distancing.

There were three specific acts listed, opening with international theatre company Teatro Pomodoro who also served as MC for the night. Our bubble of four (two couples in case you’re wondering), all of whom met at the celebrated École Phillipe Gaulier in Paris, delivered a hilarious, dark, sexy, and unnerving cabaret with a distinctly adult twist that engaged the audience from the off. Duncan Cameron was all devilish good humour whilst Simone Tani shone with his love overtures; Carmen Arquelladas amazed in ways one can only wonder at whilst Miwa Nagai stole the limelight with her banana and G&T (don’t ask…!)

The second act, Freefall, consisted itself of three performers offering us an acrobatic treat. Aerial legend Nick Hunt, half-man, half-bear, had been rudely awakened and performed a set of stunning rope performances. He was followed by Clare Allen who equally delighted with her hoops and silks routine. Closing their act was the Dirti 69 from exotic Dudley who served up a glamorous spell on her magical lyra hoop. The subtle balance between physical strength and elegant routine from all three artists was an absolute pleasure to behold and I would have liked to have seen more of them.

A somewhat extended interval took us into the final and apparently headline act as Bring the Fire Project turned their wildest dreams into reality on stage with a performance of fire flow arts and which also featured music from electronic drum ‘n’ bass band Sleeping Dragon; a guest appearance by dancers from Percaya Artists incorporating high-tech LED; and a very special effect of a giant interactive projection-mapped dragon installation from specialists Focal Studios. Sadly, it felt like there were too many things going on and coming at the end of an uncomfortably cold night in a restricted venue, it was difficult to fully enjoy in a routine that lasted about fifteen minutes. I wasn’t entirely convinced of the need for a live band, and the projection, whilst an interesting idea, was lost in the setting. The choreography and accuracy of the fire and light routines needs working on, but the experience will benefit the mostly younger performers moving forward and I’m interested to see what they do next.

All those taking part are to be credited for putting on a production in such challenging and limiting times and I hope to see more of them all at future events. Given the current implications of the pandemic on theatrical performance, it is more than likely that external venues, weather permitting, will continue to hold forth. In light of this performers and venues need to give strong consideration to sightlines as well as the use of patio heaters: even in the warmest of months it does get cold in the evening which is further exacerbated by the lack of movement as an audience member.

Reviewer: Mark Davoren

Reviewed: 27th September 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★