Live Review: Arches LIVE 2014 (Part 2)

We catch up with the latter weekend of the whirlwind festival that was Arches LIVE 2014…

Harry Giles:

Smashy Smashy

10th October

Smashy Smashy is an interactive venture designed to bring us back to our childhood, where we could create and destroy for leisure. Leaving the public in charge of creating the buildings they want to destroy, artist Harry Giles lends a helping hand, cardboard, and glitter. His instructions are: make the building you hate most, glam it up, then tear it up with the rest of the architects. It is a truly cathartic experience, stamping on my creation – everyone’s favourite brutalist building – the Boyd Orr. Others had created the Pentagon, Westminster (complete with a dragon and David Cameron kicking a poor child), and Faslane naval base – along with less politicised buildings such as a toilet shaped building and cineworld.

Smashy Smashy was born out of Harry Giles’ dream to blow up the Holyrood Palace for art – an obsession which has affected his work for the last year – combined with his disgust at the plan to demolish the Red Road flats in the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony. He believes that anger can be constructive and can lead to greater awareness and change.

This piece will make a comeback at Stow festival, where Giles will be blowing up his model of Holyrood Palace using a gas filled balloon.

[Lucy McCalister]

Creative Electric:

Hey, I’m Alive!

10th – 11th October

Hey, I’m Alive! by Creative Electric is a perfect example of Arches LIVE’s experimental theatre that does not conform to our stereotypical views of what theatre is or should be. There is no stage as such; the audience walk into a room to find four of the five performers inside giant zorbing balloons covered in paint. The audience are free to walk around the room and listen to the different actors’ stories and even interact with them. This is supposed to be representative of what it is like to have cystic fibrosis.

The performance takes a look at what life is like for people who have the disease and are not allowed into the outside world due to risk of infection, demonstrated by the balloons. The actors tell stories of what it is like to live with cystic fibrosis the more difficult parts, along with their hopes and dreams and worries.

The performance is very moving and is a real insight on what it would be like to be kept away from human contact with the internet as your only source of socialising. It also challenges our conceptions of how people with cystic fibrosis live and feel. The inspiration comes from one of the cast members who has cystic fibrosis and this gives it a real grounding and truth.

In some ways this performance could have been a tale of woe and difficulty however the approach is much more positive, it is realistic about the struggles of cystic fibrosis however it also shows how extremely grateful for life they are. At the end, it asks the audience themselves to remember that they are alive and that they are grateful for life.

[Rachel Pyke]

Amy Conway:


10th – 11th October

There’s a certain gut-wrenching feeling that comes from being confronted with reality, and my blissful naivety is faced with terror as I watch Amy Conway’s autobiographical play 30:60:80. The play challenges the romantic ideals built around your 20-somethings, as Amy, who is a ‘freelancing chancer’, illustrates the reality of being lost in the search for oneself.  At a birthday party for Amy, her mother and grandmother, they reflect on their past through the re-enactment of touchingly sincere interview recordings.

On entering the theatre space, after over-indulging in free sangria, I suddenly feel about 10 years old, entering the birthday party of the old aunt you see once a year at Christmas. As Amy welcomes us into ‘the party’ I am almost tempted to cling to my mum’s sleeve. Despite the minimalistic set, three balloons tied to three chairs, Conway has nailed the atmosphere: awkward and uncomfortable, echoing her own insecurity. Somehow the dark archways below Central Station become an intimate family gathering in a living room decked out (in my imagination) with frumpy 70’s décor.

Conway’s performance is a clear illustration of turning pain into art. A performance full of courageous honesty, the play seems almost like a form of therapy for the actress. Whether it is an expression of faith or exasperation is left ambiguous.

Personally, I left the play feeling on edge. As a nineteen year old, 30:60:80 took on a darker tone as I’ve always foolishly believed that any age will be better than your teenage years. However, many of the older viewers cried. Particularly my mum (although that could have been the result of too much sangria) who truly connected with the stories told. Perhaps the play should come with a 30+ age restriction because the romanticised picture I had of the future is being re-evaluated – I blame F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

[Rebecca Gaff]

Arches LIVE 2014 (Part 1) can be found here.

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