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BabaFish’s Expiry Date review at the Pit – ‘enjoyably quirky’

BabaFish's Expiry Date at the Pit. Photo: Sophie-Glossin BabaFish's Expiry Date at the Pit. Photo: Sophie-Glossin
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An intricate set with the appearance of an inventor’s workshop fills the stage. Hundreds of wooden blocks are painstakingly laid in pathways that weave between rickety, machine-like apparatus that tips ball-bearings down chutes and drip bright-blue liquid. As the wooden blocks fall in a complex domino effect, an hourglass is overturned and Baba Fish’s story of the last hour in the life of an old man, alone with only his memories for company, begins.

Through a combination of physical theatre, acrobatics and contemporary dance these memories play out around the central figure of the old man. Sometimes he watches, enraptured, sometimes he drives the action on; often he joins in. His memories are envisaged through three characters: his younger self, his late wife and director Anna Nilsson, whose character seems to be a mad embodiment of these characters’ emotions – simultaneously ethereal and antagonistic.

Part of the London International Mime Festival, Expiry Date is as much about its set as its story. Its sporadic bursts of life become a cue for action. Garments are thrown across the stage, the couple dance a duet that lies somewhere between a ballroom lesson and wrestling match; there’s juggling, screaming and singing. The physically realised story’s strangeness suits the quirkiness of the set, but it leaves the piece feeling disjointed. There is not so much a narrative to follow, more a haphazard impression of a life’s memories and emotions.

Amid the debris of the set, an eclectic clutter of fallen blocks and experimental contraptions, the one point of clarity is the energetic character of the old man. His gentle portrayal provides some poignant moments, not consistently upheld by the storyline.

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Verdict
An inventive and fascinating set upstages the story in Baba Fish’s enjoyably quirky portrayal of an old man’s memories
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