PUG is a performance cabaret night crossed with a so-called ‘cheeky disco’ that aims to bring radical performance of various genres together, and is quickly becoming an important new event in the Newcastle performance calendar. Positioning itself somewhere between a performance installation in a contemporary art gallery and a tribute to Phoenix Nights, complete with spangly pink curtains, its developing a loyal following. Hosts Hannah Murphy and Rosa Postlethwaite have a clear love for their audience, and are adept at curating nights with a feeling of communal daftness interspersed with moments of beauty.
Their third outing at the Tyneside Irish Centre was no exception, bringing to the stage three performance pieces, interspersed with lip-syncing, dancing and quick costume changes.
Stolen Voices by Rebecca Collins and Johanna Linsley is a project that aims to explore and interrogate sound. Initially silly and quirky, the performed extract became increasingly lyrical, eventually coming to resemble the shipping forecast, but with heightened drama and humour. Rebecca and Johanna have developed Stolen Voices in various coastal towns of the UK, researching the history of the places, the soundscapes of the sea, the local stories and more to weave a narrative of interlinking fragments that takes on an almost mythical feel. The project as a whole comprises workshops, performances, gig nights and radio braodcasts, and will culminate in a ‘sonic detective novel’ currently being developed. Staged simply yet effectively, the two performers were accompanied by a choral music score composed by Mariam Rezaei that elevated the ethereal and absorbing nature of the piece.
Following this, Where Have All the Flowers Gone? devised by Peter Groom made a real virtue of simplicity. In the piece, one performer stands on a chair and unravels a long scroll of paper, revealing fragments of text with abstract messages of self-realisation and joy. Engaging, questioning and warming as the text itself was, it was the performance really made this piece. Charlie Dearnley’s stage presence and ability to be entirely calm and focused with an audience is hugely compelling.
The final piece of the night, SEXXES by Mamoru Iriguchi, took the audience through a slide show presentation about human sex and gender, and the mating rituals of various animals. Utterly hilarious, while touching on serious themes, it was a masterclass in prop, costume and media-heavy performance art. Despite still being in development, this piece is the start of wonderfully worked cabaret lecture and a work to watch for in the future.
As a project, PUG is about building a community as much as showcasing art, and the end of the night epitomised this. New PUG writer is residence, Stavros, summed up the show with a performance poem, before leaving us in the hands of sound artist Jamie Cook to play ‘tracks to catch the fabric of our lives’ – namely a bit of Kylie.
PUG#4 is on December 1st at the Tyneside Irish Centre. Click here for more details.