Fireraisers, This Rough Magic

Review in Issue 12-3 | Autumn 2000

This Rough Magic was a one-off event – a multimedia production based on The Tempest that aimed to celebrate the magical transformational power of Brighton. The event was focused on a specially constructed oil rig sited between the two piers, animated by light, sound and performance. The problem was that, large and stunning as it was, the rig just wasn't as big and interesting as the structures on either side of it – the formidably beautiful, laser-lit palace pier and decadently gorgeous floodlit West Pier, both masterpieces of wrought iron engineering. And this sighting of the piece was its downfall in every other way. Yes, there were helicopters soaring above and jet skiers in the sea, but there usually are anyway. There was nothing that the company could do to draw the crowd's attention away from their cans of Stella purchased from kids with cool bags.

Thousands of us sat and chatted, occasionally glancing up to see someone welding at the end of the rig, or roller-blading down the gangway. There were a few nice effects – the gangway lit by a waterfall of fireworks, a flag-bearing procession, lasers running along the hotel fronts. But what was missing was an awareness of the need for a human scale to the event. There was no sense of drama, or engagement with an audience. We were promised a kaleidoscope of sound and vision, but it was hard to tell whether there was any soundtrack beyond the usual noise and flurry of this part of the seafront, heaving with bars and clubs. As an installation, it was a modest success. As a performance, a spectacular failure.

Presenting Artists

Brighton Beach

Date Seen
  1. Aug 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-3
p. 26