GDIF: Balsam by Laika & Zefiro Torna - Review – ★★★★★

GDIF: Balsam by Laika & Zefiro Torna – Review – ★★★★★

An unexpected smorgasbord of sensory titillation – ready your eyes, ears, nose and tastebuds for a voyage of discovery!

Balsam by Laika & Zefiro Torna | Building 41, Woolwich Royal Arsenal | 7-11 September 2021

We were back for another Greenwich + Dockland International Festival (GDIF) on Tuesday evening, and as is so brilliant about GDIF, we found ourselves at yet another unexpected venue. This time out, Building 41 in Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal Riverside development, and soon to open as the brand new performing arts venue Woolwich Works.

The show: well, it blew our minds. The GDIF programme had us at ‘sensory, immersive, theatrical adventure’, but we arrived with little expectation of what it was we would actually be watching – and, as is so often the case, having no expectations resulted in an absolute astounding, exhilarating experience.

GDIF: Balsam by Laika & Zefiro Torna - Review – ★★★★★ 1
Images: Kathleen Michiels

We’re torn about how much to share with you – we definitely wouldn’t recommend watching the trailer, which spoils some of the surprises – but suffice to say that theatre company Laika and the music ensemble Zefiro Torna, in their first collaboration, present a show unlike anything else. A captivating series of vocal and instrumental compositions, adapted from traditional songs of Portugal, Greece and Iceland and the mystical sounds of Hildegard Von Bingen, overlay what can only be described as live gastronomical alchemy. Movement and music combine, as do visuals and olfactory sensations. The whole thing is a hypnotic melange which defies – or, perhaps, forbids description.

You’ll have to see it to believe it.