The People Show, People Show 107

Review in Issue 11-2 | Summer 1999

A big screen reads: ‘In a diner at 705 Union Street, just over the road from Sun Records. July 6th 1954, 6.00pm. Memphis Tennessee. Waiting…’ Images of Gary Cooper in High Noon greet the audience on a variety of screens as they enter. The big moment is coming. Tension. A guitar stands propped up against the set. A frantic character – Josette Bushell Mingo in baggy 50s jacket and trousers – paces outside the diner door, unable to stay still. Entrance. The energy builds. Bushell-Mingo whirls through her character’s internal dialogue at great pace. Movements repeated, thrown away, repeated, changed – always with great intensity, never letting up. The waiting continues as she explores the whole set in sound and rhythm, engaging in one displacement activity after another; finding ways to put energy into anything to avoid focusing on the looming showdown with the studio that’s to come. Until it’s almost too late and the moment of truth is upon us.

Josette Bushell-Mingo is a performer of great physical skill and dexterity. During this performance, however, the technical aspects of the show distract us from, rather than help us to enter, the world she is creating. Although wonderfully designed and fascinating in themselves, the set, sound effects and accompanying video create disharmony between performer and environment, and ultimately act as a barrier and split focus. As an experiment in fusion of media and style, during this performance it was difficult to be sure where the energy was coming from or going to because the technical elements didn’t easily integrate. As a result, the intimacy of the performer/audience relationship and quality of play were lost somehow along the way and a potentially excellent piece was held back by its style.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-2
p. 21