BWW Reviews: SIRO-A, Leicester Square Theatre, February 4 2013
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by Gary Naylor
If, like me, you're disappointed at missing out on Kraftwerk's residency at Tate Modern this week, Siro-A (at the Leicester Square Theatre until 22 April) offers a Japanese alternative to the Teutonic tunesmiths. Like the uber-cool Krautrockers, Siro-A find a space somewhere between a gig and a piece of performance art to explore man's relationship with technology - especially gadgets - without ever taking themselves too seriously. The result is an hour packed with extraordinary video installations, street dance, clever mime, witty references to a Bladerunnerish cityscape packed with logos and lights and music. It's an hour that passes as quickly as the Tokyo bullet train.
After a bit of coy audience participation that primes us for the trompes l'oeils to come, the beat takes over and four androgynous men start to dance, to move and, somehow, to catch projections in the blocks they hold, point and pass between them. The use of MalevichIan White squares to capture and propel projections is a motif that runs through the show, becoming more miraculous in every scene. Back projection doesn't always work well in theatres, but in this show, the projection is back, front and centre!
Everyone will react to this avalanche of input for eyes and ears in different ways and everyone will have their own favourite scene and their own favourite amongst the two music and video whizzkids at the back and the four performers up front. As for me, edging out an almost balletic mime with tiny lights illuminating bodies in motion and a very funny silhouette show of sportswear logos, was a charming evocation of one of the performer's lives - Abe Toshinori - the pictures trapped from thin air by the others.
As with all the best art, the show appeals right across the board. My 12-year-old son loved the old computer games references that popped up from time to time both in video and music. I loved a complicated sequence in which performers jumped in and out of fabric sheets on to which their images were projected in such a way that you couldn't tell 2-D from 3-D. It raised questions about where man ends and machines begin - Kraftwerk again - but like so much of the show, done with a polite Japanese humour I recognised from the work of Studio Ghibli's animated classics. It was both weird and familiar.
After what felt like fifteen minutes, but was actually sixty, it was Game Over. It's not a long show, but such is the blitz on senses that an hour is probably enough. But you might need to see it twice to get all the jokes, all the allusions and all the fun from a dazzling, unique production. And I might just do that.