DramaNorth WestPerformance ArtReview

Mina– Home, Manchester

Creator: Natalie Lebouleux
Reviewer: Katherine Kirwin 

Mina is a theatrical piece exploring and exposing the use of conversion therapy to ‘cure’ same-sex attraction. It is a theatrical retelling of Natalie Leboulex’s award-nominated short film Paper Thin and blends live performance with stop-motion animation film projected around the stage.

Paper lanterns guide the audience, one at a time, down the corridor and into the paper-strewn performance space, dominated by white lit-up cubes. Paper is a recurring image in Mina as the character uses paper as an artform and expression of her inner thoughts, desires and denied sexuality. The music is alternative, and particularly as Gwen Osmond tears her way through the sides of a paper cube, it was as if it were a foetus hearing sound in utero.

Mina is predominantly a stop-motion animation film, splicing together Mina’s past experiences while a masked performer watches and reacts from within a glass box. The stop-motion animation is interesting and well-executed, spiralling into the nightmarish, magical and bizarre as Mina’s exposure to conversion therapy becomes more twisted and intense. The conversion therapy depicted in is focused on doctor/counselor-patient relationship and an overriding sense of religion as a pervading, negative force for the attempted change. The lights flicker, both around the audience and in the animation, as Mina’s thoughts and feelings are challenged, in an interesting lighting and staging design. It seems strange however to imply that Mina has the power to alter the lighting, this magical-realism element makes her appear rather Carrie-esque in her abilities rather than the focus being on her sexual desires.

This show is difficult to categorise. As an audience member, it feels like you are within a performance art piece, a piece of art which is slow to start and only really comes to life through the animation. An interesting watch, and it’s great that HOME is championing alternative theatre/performance art such as this, as part of PUSH 2017.

Reviewed on 25 January 2016 | Image: Contributed

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