I’m loathed to have to dredge up that haggard expression “art is subjective” but I bloody have to. Art, be it contemporary theatre, movement or any other form of emotional or ideal provocation will always manifest differently. That’s half of the reason we enjoy it as a cultural entertainment; disagreement and discussion. The bleeding of one performer’s interpretations and comments on subjects, in this case, the parental-child bond, will weigh individually. Bron Batten’s piece Sweet Child of Mine is a contemporary piece which includes an array of techniques, from movement to video interludes.
Being dealt a late blow in production, Sweet Child of Mine lacks its key element: Bron’s father. Unable to attend the show at such a late developmental stage, Bron has the unique idea of bringing this production deeper into the community. Scottish fathers (tonight delightfully played by the charming Archie) are invited to fill in. Here, ladies and gentlemen, are where the show’s issues and strengths reside. Incorporating non-trained talent rips away the veil that high culture theatre is for elitists. It is for everyone, it should always be, regardless of subject matter or price.
What should be a challenging piece which shows the inner struggle of a parent’s acceptance of the un-lucrative profession the arts tends to offer, is instead an oddly poor comedic stand-in obstructing the shows intended message. There’s a sense of forced pathos within the script which is handed to the stand-in father. Sweet and important to acknowledge so many of the community wanted to offer a hand, this is no fault of Bron or her father but the shows true message just cannot be truly directed.
Video transitions reveal the intention of the piece, Bron’s parents simply talking about her life and their opinion on arts and the theatre. Her parents are the warmth of the production, even when they sit on the throne of pessimism. They do however explain something which dampens Sweet Child of Mine. Outside of its outlandish experimental concoctions, nothing is contemporary. The idea of parents which cannot adjust to a child’s way of living is nothing new. It’s the Fringe, about four hundred other people are discussing the same bloody topic.
The contemporary movement segments are on the repetitive side, fluid and poignant but what seems to be a skeleton of important work is wrapped in a heap of misjudged steps and wayward messages.