Here’s to you Mr Robinson
When the performers start randomly throwing sheets of paper into the air for the third time in less than an hour, you know a show’s in trouble. It was a shame really because the premise of a dying elderly looking back over his life held plenty of promise.
It featured some excellent performers. Jef Stevens was convincingly charming and curmudgeonly as the old man and showed he had plenty of athleticism still coursing through his bones. Anna Nilsson was a fine gymnast, Luis Sartori Do Vale was an entertaining juggler and Laura Laboureur was very good at looking cross.
The problem was that very little of it made sense. Nilsson did a solo of superbly controlled handstand balances at one point – don’t know why. It was followed by a wonderful display of juggling by Do Vale but again there was no clear reason for it. People shouted at each other, had parties, threw things at each other, knocked down and then rebuilt small wooden towers but to what purpose? If it was to show that the old man’s life had been a bit of a mess then I suppose it succeeded in a literal sense but I wanted to know more about him.
There was however, one thing, or rather several things, that made this show absolutely worth seeing and they were the extraordinary Heath Robinson contraptions that filled the stage. Linked together by small wooden blocks that acted like toppling dominoes, a ball-bearing raced down some narrow chutes before being pinged several feet into a bucket which activated a guitar that swung around to whack a giant egg timer upside down thus causing it to release its copious amount of sand into an enormous pan which eventually weighed so much it forced open a container which fed bright blue liquid into several glass panels which eventually released some more dominoes that kick-started a beautiful machine that had fifteen metallic balls swinging in a wonderful array of patterns. Now that I could have watched all night.
Expiry Date is part of the London Mime Festival and runs at the Barbican until 23 January 2016. The Barbican website has tickets and more info.