What a joy it is to visit this obscure corner of Hackney Wick and discover not only a pop-up theatre that actually lives up to its potential but also, finally, a decent fringe venue for east London. Liveartshow’s ‘Manga Sister’ is exactly the sort of batshit-mental enterprise you’d hope to be taking place in the middle of a big pile of reclaimed scrap in this desolate Olympic Park adjunct.
Essentially it’s a pocket-sized (50-minute) opera about Gerald (Deryck Hamon), a wheelchair-bound old man locked up in an awful care home, whose last pleasure in life is a violent Japanese cartoon series that screens on telly late at night. When his carers decide to off him via a massive intravenous dose of gin, it’s up to the cartoon’s fictional heroes to save Gerald, violently, with big swords.
Though possibly intended as some sort of tribute to old folks who spend their final years glued to the box, Harry Blake and Alan Harris’s show doesn’t really make actual sense, but rather throws together a bunch of mad ideas and makes them work impressively well.
Martin Constantine’s lucid direction, Will Holt’s cleanly inventive design and projections, and a uniformly impressive group of singers, dancers and musicians combine to imbue this slight, striking show with gleeful conviction and surprisingly professionalism. An eccentric gem.
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