Gentle piano music plays as we see pregnant women breathing peacefully on stage and are told to imagine we are a balloon, filled with air and then air which is filled with air. Softly a woman attaches a rope to the piano players waist and pulls, she screams as she wrenches him from his stool, dragging him across the floor, pulling and screaming and puffing and then silence and so Child Farrago is born. This is just one example of the imaginative, energetic and often irreverential work of Babolin which overflows in this piece.
The Parched Lament of Child Farrago is an exploration into the question of faith and a look into the tragedy of a childs disappearance. Our confident ensemble of performers duck and dive and plot and giggle to present to us a number of sequences which push the lines of truth and lies, of fact and dreams and cover the stage with rich images and ideas.
Our down to earth narrators enter in a ramshackle line, people and boxes perched precariously on shoulders. They are to tell us the story of the chosen Child Farrago and sometimes will be he/she/he themselves, sometimes Farragos parents, sometimes none of the above - wherever the narrative takes them. They use rope and red balloons and rolls and rolls of paper to create spaces and paintings and visions. Industrial red torches light the action and choral voices transport you to lofty cathedrals and mosques. Dolls are used to beautiful and sometimes disturbing effect being manipulated with such skill that they become alive themselves.
Babolin is the young performers group set up by the physical theatre company Gomito and the potential in every member of this company is incredibly apparent. Each performer brings a focus to their playing that means that the stage is constantly moving, shifting and changing as each actor performs his or her own story whether they are the focus or not, creating an incredibly intricate stage picture. Although sometimes the vocal work is a little quiet they are impressively professional performers who bring a unity and transcendence to their group movement and choral work which is not apparent in a lot of professional theatre.
This is a very impressive production and Babolin create some ingenious and powerful moments which speak to the heart of the audience on questions of faith and love and isnt afraid to go beyond the conventional to pierce it. If anything then at points the stage is saturated with too many ideas. This is a company who clearly are bursting to step out of the box in the most creative and imaginative way possible but sometimes they forget that stillness and simplicity is also essential. At points I felt somewhat lost about what was happening and although in the end I felt it was a complete piece I still feel that some ideas should have been extended and others dropped to achieve the full potential of this this story.
In The Parched Lament of Child Farrago Babolin have created a delightfully interesting and thought provoking piece of theatre, which points to the future heights which each of its performers will no doubt attain and begins to unravel the incomprehensible question of humanity and religion in an entertaining, beautiful and on occasion deeply moving way.