Image for Ten Days of reviews: Every time I see your picture I cry & Mim Suleiman & Trio Rafiki Jazz

Everytime I See Your Picture I Cry
8.30pm Friday 1st April
Peacock Theatre
10 Days on the Island

It’s called a ‘manual animation’, and as soon as Daniel Barrow’s Everytime I See Your Picture I Cry begins, you can understand why. Using an old-fashioned overhead projector, Barrow animates his narrative by manipulating a series of two or three layers of hand-drawn screens. Visually, it’s both touching and spellbinding. The precision and depth of creativity is constantly surprising as we are treated to his comic-style characters acting on the screen. Effects, symbolic elements and small visual jokes are spread throughout the story, leaving us now laughing, now sad and whimsical.

The show is accompanied by a well-conceived soundtrack by Amy Linton and Barrow’s own live narration. Centring on ‘Helen Keller’, a disenchanted, reality-tumbled artist turned garbage collector, it poses as the story of his attempts to collect a world together in a personal phone book, an imaginative construction built from the figures he spies through windows on his rounds. However, even as he enters his characters in the book, a serial killer is stalking and murdering the people he has been describing.

I say poses, for the narrative elements are spare and you get the sense that Barrow is barely attempting to tell a story in the classical sense. Rather, Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry functions as a series of confessional reflections on our responses to suffering and isolation. The Helen Keller nickname is a fairly straightforward clue; for the garbage collector, the original Keller serves as a seemingly impossible ideal. So often, the real world scars us more terribly, leaving us broken and disappointed individuals; we may even, perhaps, be stalked by a serial killer.

While he has a fine, hypnotic vocal style, at times Barrow’s almost poetic prioritisation of reflection over narrative becomes a little ambling. It’s a delicate balance, and one that should not be judged too harshly. For the mood is consistent, the sensibility clear and pronounced.

And Barrow’s visual manipulations are wonderful enough to transcend any of our questions and our doubts.

Ben Walter

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Mim Suleiman & Trio Rafiki Jazz
City Hall
Fri 1 April 2011
Ten Days

Mim Suleiman sings like the sun – her voice shone, as she raised her arms out wide, sometimes flicking her black curly hair, dressed in a yellow African gown. Accompanied by Trio Rafiki Jazz, the sound had an ease and pureness of groove, which permeated throughout the City Hall among the smiling groups of ‘Rafiki’, which means friends in Swahili.

Connected to our Ten Days Island festival, is the island of Zanzibar (semi-autonomous region of Tanzania) in East Africa, which was the birthplace of Mim Suleiman. While Suleiman linked us strongly to her origins with song, East African drums and influence, the repertoire gathered musicians, instruments and sounds from further afield, pulsing into a free-flowing easy-going dance vibe.

Suleiman introduced the kora (originally from West Africa) player, Kadialy Kouyate as the “sexiest machine you’ve ever seen”, and while he seemed uninterested in yielding this persona, his presence and the ease with which he played certainly was, though I’m not sure ‘machine’ is the description I’d use.

Guery Tibirica played the berimbau, a single string percussion instrument that looks a bit like an elongate bow with a gourd resonator at one end. It’s Brazilian, with African origins, and is synonymous with capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art. For the final number Tibirica joined the comfortably spacious dance floor, with his high kicks and quick leg sweeps into a spinning dance with lots of hand to floor contact ground acrobatics.

The only white skin in the line-up was bass guitar, cello banjo and percussion player Tony‘tk’Koni. His steady, funky and again easy rhythm was seamless, though his leopard skin safari suit raised a few eyebrows.

Suleiman sang in English, Fula and Kiswahili (her native tongue), and sang a familiar and favourite song by Angélique Kidjo.

The vibrance of the music largely overcame the acoustic challenges of the City Hall, but unfortunately the deeper subtleties were missed, but thankfully it wasn’t too loud. Most of all it was a warm and very friendly night.

Lucy Wilson Magnus

This review is originally published by the Write Response blog team: an independent team of Tasmanian writers have united to create WriteResponse, a platform to review all types of art and creative endeavour.

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