Review: Mr and Mrs Clark - Smash It Up @ Chapter
In 2013, Newport's beloved Chartist mural, designed by Kenneth Budd, was controversially pulled down. This great mosaic work fell victim to a poor location (it was erected in 1978 by the motorway) and little interest from those that could have helped preserve it was expressed in the artwork's time of need.
Through this upset, there is an expressive outcry from Mr and Mrs Clark entitled Smash It Up. Many a bold statement is bashed at spectators throughout this work. We should all become more politically-charged by this, but the cynic in me fails to consider this. As we entered, we took in tables full of broken-up art, as the performers sat idly by.
The next hour and a bit is a flurry of movement, dance, film, activism, words and anything to make us feel anger over the actions of the big wigs and fat cats in our society. We are spoon-fed a huge amount of quotes and insight in this piece, and, at times, it is a bit unbearable.
Yet, when in its stride, the piece can trigger in you a thrust for change for the better today. Whether the performers destroy real cherished valuables is irrelevant (a teddy got its head sawn off), since the point of destroying one's belonging is enough of a statement in its self. Gareth Clark, Marega Palser and Steven George Jones (who is a bit of an Andy Warhol lookalike) are three mesmeric performers, each adding their own nuanced offerings to the work.
You feel the anger here, there is also pain, fear and anxiety. This inspired happening may leave some audience members a little provoked and shaken, but that was never really a bad thing. The piece should be seen on its own merits and not just by the recommendation of a certain review.
Striking, bold & revelatory.
Rating: 4 stars
Smash It Up continues at Chapter Arts Centre till 27th February 2016, then on tour.
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Image credit: Mr and Mrs Clark via Twitter