Review: GDIF: Follow Me – ★★★★
A surprising, acrobatic jaunt around the alleyways and underpasses of Thamesmead, Follow Me is a playful game of follow-the-leader and daring athleticism.
A typical GDIF triumph, Follow Me draws a crowd of curious onlookers to the streets of Thamesmead. for an hour of semi-interactive parkour – and don’t worry, audiences don’t have to do the dangerous bits!
Belgian company Be Flat – circus artistes – Ward Mortier and Thomas Decaesstecker – are the super enthusiastic performer-guides for this participatory, promenade, site-specific performance which is very much the essence of GDIF. Bringing dynamism and unpredictability to the concrete jungle that is the Thamesmead Estate, an hour in their company flies by – as do they, leaping from rooftops, shimmying up and down lampposts, and galivanting hither and thither with infectious fizz.
There isn’t much in the way of obvious narrative, though that’s no criticism. It can most definitely be enough to wow and wonder with spectacle and sheer bravado. Follow Me makes a thing of not merely being a spectator piece, either. The audience is gently cajoled into playing along, creating some genuinely awesome moments of collective endeavour.
If there is one criticism, it’s that whilst most of Follow Me is sensitive to its surroundings, there are times when the audience is almost directly in the back yards of everyday Thamesmead residents just getting on with their lives – it can feel a bit intrusive. But this isn’t the intention, and indeed one of the great GDIF virtues is the way it brings art and performances to new spaces and communities.
That aside, it’s hard to really sum up the energy and sheer fun that the Be Flat pair exude – this is a pick-me-up for troubling times, an encouragement to hold hands with the person nearest to you and skip towards a brighter future.
GDIF continues until 11th September – check out what’s on!
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.