Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

See Me After (PUSH Festival 2018)

Yandass Ndlovu and Anna Berentzen
Yandass Ndlovu, Anna Berentzen and Nina Barber
HOME, Manchester
26 January 2018 to 27 January 2018

The title See Me After brings to mind the threatening comment that teachers add to unsatisfactory homework that has been handed in by pupils. It is very refreshing to note that the five performers who take part in the show are certainly on the young side. See Me After continues the pattern of shows so far at the 2018 PUSH Festival, being brief and a compilation of short pieces. However, rather than songs and sketches, the content is somewhat upmarket, with poems, dance, mime and even a drum solo.

There are elements of performance art in See Me After. Shadows and light are used to great effect, with images of dancers shot in negative (so skin is black and hair is white) projected on to a screen. It does, however, make for a hesitant start to the show, which does not really get going until Christopher Roscoe, seated anonymously among the audience, rises to begin an opening monologue which is performed with the poet illuminated only by a torch held by a patron.

As with any show featuring performance art, there are moments that nudge towards pretentious. Yet the cast seem determined to keep their feet firmly on the ground, complaining how badly they are sweating after the dancing and chatting breathlessly in between numbers. Even so you can’t help but feel the occasional joke wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Yandass Ndlovu and Anna Berentzen, who conceived See Me After, merge the talents of the individual performers into a cohesive whole.  There is a loose structure to the show that seems to be examining the activities and development of youngsters. The dance pieces have a restless, exploratory nature as the cast clamber on top of each other, straining upwards as if climbing trees or trying to see over fences.

There is a childlike sense of wonder in the pieces, and it is remarkable that, although only Helen Andrew is credited as having a background as a dancer, all of the cast move flawlessly. More 'mature’ ways of releasing energy are explored with the cast in full head-banging dancing to Oscar Ogden’s jazz-style drumming. Roscoe’s closing performance of the poem from which the show takes its title brings the evening full circle.

See Me After is an excellent showcase for the young talent of Manchester and is not a show that could be marked as ‘unsatisfactory’.

See Me After is part of the PUSH Festival and returns to HOME on 27th January 2018.

Reviewer: David Cunningham