Forced Entertainment, The Travels Phoenix

Review in Issue 14-4 | Winter 2002

For this show Forced Entertainment spent three months travelling separately to street locations around Britain chosen for the resonance of their names (Dead Lane, Paradise Street, Rape Lane, Cutthroat Alley). But that resonance creates a problem: a rooting in text not space. And though Claire Marshall makes a neat summing-up after one particularly allusive sequence that they are ‘building space out of rumours’ the claim doesn’t quite stand up.

Artists like Richard Long and Hamish Fulton say that their travelling is their art and the photographs and text they produce but a secondary distillation. It is hard not to feel the same about The Travels.

There is a stripping away of the style of previous shows, but still a ventilation throb of yarning. The ‘neutral’ staging, performers seated behind two long desks, should let the audience visualise for themselves the spaces travelled. But I wouldn’t have minded some angry trees to manifest a landscape.

The studied acting of not acting, the mix of faked and real events, the over-portentous conclusion of some accounts (‘The future will be paranoid… will be scared’) felt like an acknowledgement that the most exciting part of the project was missing, its re-performing too distant from its original motion.

There are wonderful sequences: Claire Marshall making her own death road of predictions, Cathy Naden’s innocent photography of kids at Oracle Court challenged by scared, angry parents and her trip to Storybook Glen where nothing is in her scale, Terry O’Connor’s precarious wander between Karaoke bars in early hours London… but wouldn’t we have rather gone with them?

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-4
p. 28