This tiny space above a Notting Hill pub isn’t where one would normally head in search of a rock concert but, under the guidance of Micro’s artistic directors Natalie Abrahami and Carrie Cracknell, the emphasis here has moved increasingly away from straight theatre, diverging into movement based works.
They’ve usually been much quieter affairs, though, than this “physical concert” by Pierre Rigal which comes with a warning that “if the noise is too loud, put your fingers in your ears.”
It was and I did, but I was still intrigued by this performance by “pre-musical creatures” as it built to a crescendo which cried out for the protection of earplugs.
In most ways, it couldn’t be more different from fellow Frenchman Celeste Boursier-Mougenot’s charming installation in the Barbican’s Curve (a low-flying flock of tiny zebra finches whose interactions with the cymbals and electric guitars on which they land, perch and nest create a gently amplified soundscape). In both cases it’s the interaction with the musical instruments which is to the fore. But Rigal’s piece grows from quiet, quite witty and subtle beginnings into something much more visceral and unrestrained.
A hand appears here and there, then an arm or two slowly emerges from behind a keyboard or a guitar, until the four performers in their black T-shirts come completely into view. Rigal attempts to enable us “to see the music” as well as hear it. Drumming on a pair of upturned high heels is cheekily amusing, walking around with a drum plopped on one’s head seems a silly step too far.
It still has the feel of a work in progress, but I’m not altogether convinced that this Gallic “voyage that skirts the musical boundaries” has the potential to transform itself into anything more than a one-off experiment.
Gate, Pembridge Road W11 3HQ (020 7229 0706) Tube:- Notting Hill Gate http://www.gatetheatre.co.uk Until 8 May(£11 – £16)