Mayfest Shorts: Wrecking Ball- Bristol Old Vic Studio


What is myth, what is artifice and what is real is at the heart of Action Hero’s latest show Running Ball which presumably takes its title and original inspiration from the controversial music video Miley Cyrus completed with photographer Terry Richardson which almost broke the internet and got the broadsheets all in a lather back in 2013. As we enter the space a photographer is mixing cocktails and lounging louchely, personable he invites us to grab a beer though no one takes him up on the offer. Meanwhile a celebrity (actress/model/singer- does the distinction matter?) stands in the space bored and distracted, a cypher into which dreams and aspirations, products and placements can be dumped om.

He begins to shoot, speaking to her, his language droned and flat used to praise, manipulate, goad her into creating what he wants. This doesn’t have the cool chic of Blow Up, its creepy, bullying, condescending. She turns the tables ‘Are you wearing a costume’, she asks of his skinny jeans and chequered shirt attire, the definition of a million wannabe artists. He is playing just as much of a part as she is, they each have their brands to sell.

What is real: the ice cream looks inviting even after we’re told its nothing but cold mash potato with food colouring. What is real: there is talk of world descending into apocalypse as the photo shoot continue.   What is real: we watch the model forced into stripping off her bikini and posing nude without her revealing an inch of skin. It buzzes with ideas but it doesn’t fully come off, like it falls into its own trap of artifice at the sake of deeper emotional engagements.

There are the usual live performance  tricks, of a slightly stilted delivery of dialogue, of asking an audience member to get actively involved by reading parts of pt. Watching a number of Mayfest shows back to back its interesting to note how many shows are playing to the same piper. When it works well it can really inform a work, when it doesn’t it can just feel like a cheap trick.

Ultimately its major problem is it shoots its load to early, after posing its question it it defiantly never answers them but finds itself with nowhere else to go. A show about artifice eventually comes across as just as artificial as the subjects it portrays.


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