Wild Life FM review

Theatre, Experimental
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Wildly provocative performer Kim Noble teams up with a group of teenagers for this bizarre and thrilling show

You may remember writer and performer Kim Noble from the time he did a poo in a church. Or when he fashioned a vagina out of chicken breasts and used pictures of it to catfish a trucker he’d never met. Or when he pretended to be a B&Q employee for a while, working in a branch for weeks before anyone realised.

The thing about Noble’s work is that, out of context, these individual episodes sound fucking weird. But they always make sense within his shows – and always make some profound point about social interaction, loneliness or the boundaries of taste. He’s a prankster with a higher purpose.

So what happens when Noble, along with Belgian theatre-maker Pol Heyvaert, is set loose on a group of teenagers to make a show about adolescence? Well, yes, you get a 15-year-old with a ball gag in his mouth. But it’s a tiny part of a messy, thrilling, anxious and deeply insightful piece of theatre.

Set to a surging ambient soundtrack by Jakob Ampe, nine teenage musicians dig into bits of life through songs, speech and stories. Billed as a radio show, and broadcast live on Resonance FM, it feels like Chris Morris’s trippy, free-form radio concoction ‘Blue Jam’. 

The amazingly assured performers cover homelessness, dating, mental health, first times and more. They perform songs or read out break-up texts while projections show feeds of FailArmy YouTube compilations and Google searches for ‘Harry Potter having sex’, among other gifs. This audiovisual tapestry evokes all the chaos of growing up. 

These teenagers are so in control that it feels more like they’re watching and judging the audience than us regarding them. At one point a performer makes a prank call to Crimestoppers, reporting a male member of the audience (me, in fact) for staring at them. Is it real? Fake? Who knows? Either way, the piece constantly provides an electric charge. 

So that ball gag. Again, Noble is making a point: that young people are silenced in society but have a huge amount to say. And although ‘Wild Life FM’ feels properly dangerous, kind of twisted and frightening, that is so purely like adolescence itself that, in form and content, the show becomes a punching satire on how society treats the next generation.

By: Tim Bano

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