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Review: BABYLON from the Red Nose Company

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Review: BABYLON from the Red Nose Company

We walk into the auditorium to find seats, to which we gain help: "Yea yea, this way, there are many seats certainly left over here!" It's the clown whom we saw in the advertisement, shouting with her nasal voice. She is leading us.

Babylon is very strenuous and strong performance and exceptionally well polished, even though it's partly based on improvisation.

This show is purely clownery.

"Dear audience! My name is Babylon and I'm about to examine authority and power." Babylon is set in the front central stage, her hands wide apart so that we can hardly notice a supportive, or dare I say secondary, character who gestures in the background, wearing a red nose as well. After awhile she gets her introduction: she is an assistant of Babylon.

Babylon herself is rather cosy and pleasant, though attentive character. She speaks out her thoughts about power in such a way that it leaves room to the audience to evaluate what do they think about each topic she represents with the help of her assistant in her various scenes and exercises directed to the audience, which are either physical or imaginary. The first officialish scene after comfy blabbering Babylon transforms herself into a commander. How does a commander communicate his authority? He has a nifty outfit, yes, but "what about the hands? What shall be done with the hands? They're in the way!"

Babylon and her anxious (in both ways) and zealous character together present scenes rich in diversity and costumes on ruling and authority, whether it's about commanders, celebrities, parents or churches. To me the most exhilarating and important part was Babylon's take on MeToo. When Babylon informed that the MeToo part is about to begom I started clapping; no one else did. In spite of that Babylon reacted to me by nodding and blurting out yes. Our clowns did pay attention in being present and open to the audience. They look at us, walk among us and react to us. Now, Babylon has put on a beanie and a peculiar, long coat, goes off stage and starts to leer audience members, slowly walking: "You wanna have tomatoes? I have them over there, will you follow me? No?" Everyone is laughing, until out of the blue: "If I give you 100€, will you jerk me off?" Silence comes and no one is laughing so much any more. Timings and other choreographs are very specific, whether by luck, rehearse or pure talent during the whole performance. The MeToo scene also took itself to a deeper level as there was a MeToo scene inside a MeToo scene. Mindblowing.

When it's finally a time to say good bye our actors come on stage first as the clowns, but after that, the red noses in their hands, placed on their hearts as they bow to the loudly clapping audience. Symbolic.

All in all Babylon is a very heart-warming, yet serious show about authority and power, taking on many scenes and characters to represent the people and organisations that do rule over us. It's really clever and impacting show the lover of theater and clownery must go and see.

Babylon will continue to tour Finland next spring, starting at the Finnish National Theatre.

Photos: Mark Sergeev
Article: Rosanna Liuski

Review: BABYLON from the Red Nose Company


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