Mind The Gap’s “Irresistible, Call of the Sirens” in Bradford, reviewed.


Guest blogger, Rachel Elderkin writes an IRRESISTIBLE REVIEW . . . neglecting to mention she played a siren in the show. There should have been some sort of disclaimer!

A bird soars across the wall, the sirens sound, stones fall…

As you are taken into the dim, fire lit studio, the sound of the wind whistling around you, you could easily believe you had been transported to the Yorkshire moors – thankfully without the torrential downpours. While the unpredictable “British Summer” meant that all six performances of ‘Irresistible – Call of the Sirens’ had to take place at Mind The Gap’s studios in Bradford, rather than at a very wet and windy Cow and Calf up on Ilkley Moor, this didn’t dampen the spirit of Jez Colborne and the performers at Mind The Gap.

For the audience, their journey started outside the studio – either greeted by the unpredictable ‘punk princess’ and her ‘prince’ on board the coach, or met by a playful ‘crew’, a large “Immovable” block (which some may have come across last month in Barnsley and York) and the soulful sounds of Jez on a penny-whistle as they entered the building. From the start ‘Irresistible’ is very much a performance in which the audience are involved.

Influenced by the story of Odysseus and with a selection of songs inspired not only by sirens but by blues, country, rap and hip hop, ‘Irresistible’ follows Jez as he takes us on a musical journey exploring the spell of the sirens. Jez shows himself to be a masterful performer; his talent as a singer, songwriter and musician is evident from the engaging manner in which he conveys his songs and story. Admittedly alarm sirens are not something you’d immediately expect to work as the basis for a musical number. It is a cacophony of noise, but Jez turns this into a central song that is surprisingly catchy. In fact all the songs in this performance stick in your mind long after it is finished.

It is not just alarm sirens but also a trio of camouflage-clad “mythical” Sirens that add their voices to the performance. Consisting of two vocalists and one interpretive signer they add an enchanting note to the piece, creating some beautiful, mystical melodies. Jez is supported by a cast of ‘hobos’; grouped around a real fire and tapping out rhythms on stones, they are a mystical bunch, but appear ready to welcome Jez, and the audience, into their world. The lively ‘crew’, equipped with hand-held sirens and glow sticks, also accompany Jez on his journey. They pulled out some great dance moves in the ‘rock n roll’ number and easily got the audience joining in. Full of energy and excitement, they evidently enjoy performing.

‘Irresistible’ is a well directed, interactive piece, with some clever projections and atmospheric sound and lighting. While it is a shame that the acoustic and atmospheric potential of the Cow and Calf could not be explored, the production did not lose any quality from being performed inside and from the use of the studio space you wouldn’t know it was designed for another setting. The bursts of clogging were a particular highlight adding yet another sound and skill to this cast’s repertoire. With the performance taking place amongst and around the audience we were effectively integrated into this unique production. From joining in a tug-of-war, to chants and rock ‘n roll dancing, Jez had everyone waving their hands and clapping along by the end. It was an infectious atmosphere; moments of humour, moments of seriousness, but above all a desire to create a fun and enjoyable evening.

Irresistible is part of the Cultural Olympiad and also part of Unlimited. It will be going to London to the National Theatre on 5th and 6th September and to Southbank Centre on 8th Sept 2012.