Praxis Makes Perfect | Berghain | Berlin
Never having previously bought into the idea of concept albums and performance theatre, it’s a safe bet to say that my expectations for this show weren’t at astronomical levels. That said it was a show by a cult band in a warehouse club in former East Berlin, something my inner hipster will never turn down, and any initial reservations were long gone by the end.
A visual and auditory cacophony masterminded by Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip under the guise of Neon Neon, the show provides an insight into the life of one Giangiacomo Feltrinelli and his exploits within the Communist movement of the ‘50s & ‘60s. In that respect, the show won me over with its abrupt bursts looking at the trajectory of Feltrinelli’s life, that of an unsung hero of Communism, a subject which I had no prior knowledge of and found to actually be quite interesting.
The show, part of the Foreign Affairs program at the Berliner Festspiele, played host to the quirk and confusion that goes hand in hand with the theatre – moving stages that force the audience into different perspectives and shifts of attention were soundtracked with the songs from Neon Neon’s second release, all complementing what was a very engaging and provocative cast performance.
There were moments where the show seemed to lose focus on the theme, with the odd scene which would have the avid and ever-pretentious theatre-goer fawning over the satirical use of a shopping trip or Ché Guevara’s guide on leading a revolution à la the 1970s family game show format, but you could excuse that as this is a performance piece when all is said and done.
That last sentiment was the only source of disappointment for the show as there was a clear divide of those in the crowd who were there to see Neon Neon play and those who were there to see Neon Neon perform. To see streams of people leaving once they realised the performance had finished while the gig continued was an uneasy thing, but no blame is laid at the feet of the performers – speaking with some of the cast and crew afterwards, this appeared to be a recurring issue that had taken place during other performances across the UK.
A show that offers an engaging look-back at a relatively obscure figure in history with the tie-in of a band who offer themselves as a diverse, synth-laden, story-telling orchestra, Praxis Makes Perfect was by all means a success in what it set out to accomplish.