Manipulate Festival,

Traverse Theatre 

5th Feb


Some of us think we’ve had it bad in life , then all you need to watch butterfly to discover its not all that bad. The opening scene introduces our performers, Ramesh Meyyappan, Ashley Smith and Martin McCormick, in a synchronised dance. Ashley plays Butterfly a kite maker who’s affections are sought from a customer (McCormick) she is clearly not up for this but when Nabokov (Meyyappan) the butterfly collector comes along she changes her tune. The romantic scenes I found a bit cringe worthy….in fact in my notes it says BLERGH….and I found that the character Nabokov looked maniacal throughout this. Maybe this was deliberate as we realise his intention is not to nurture Butterflys individual creativity and freedom but to trap her in his world like the real butterflys in the jars he keeps. He is livid to find another man has affections towards her and tortures her as punishment. On finding the kite maker living with the other man her enraged customer takes her physically and rapes her. This scene is particularly traumatic. Slow motion movement is used and it directly contrasts with a scene next to it which is set in a blue lit ambience of the butterfly collector who is oblivious to violent red lit incident that is occurring in his absence. The customer is transformed from a gormless admirer to a predatory hillbilly.

As described by my friend Heidi, we then see the ‘butterfly effect’ of rape and domestic abuse. The scene is replayed over and over as the trauma causes Butterfly to be rejected by Nabokov and for fighting to become common place. As the show is without words various interpretations are triggered. In he following scenes we become less sure of what is dream, real or repeating memories. A shadow baby is projected onto one of the kites as a visually effective womb, Butterfly is pregnant. The baby is born and Butterfly is left alone looking after all the dead butterfly’s in jars. The baby grows to a toddler, a soft cuddly toy type puppet and although the movements created by the trio are very convincing the baby looks scary, like a mini Mr. Burns. Eventually the child breaks a precious butterfly and in a rage it killed by his own mother. The play ends here as the jarred butterfly’s flicker alive in the jars, perhaps symbolising the entrapment of this unfortunate woman in prison either a real one or metaphorically in her mind.

This play depicted real issues that effect many people. Domestic violence are tricky subjects to cover and it was an opening for myself and my friend to talk about it in a way that wasn’t too harrowing as thought we have about it could be referenced using the play. Cycles of abuse are common place in society, work like this gives people a chance to view such a taboo in a way that means you can be thoughtful without becoming overwhelmed by the horribleness of a situation that people too often have to go through. FOUR STARS

four stars

Reviewer : Sarah Marshall

Posted on February 6, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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