Review: A Visit to the Minotaur (Voila! Europe, livestream)

As part of the 10th anniversary of the Voila! Europe festival at The Cockpit, A Visit to the Minotaur was livestreamed from the Ukraine on 3 November.

As a piece of documentary theatre, it used real witness statements, original video and photographic footage, and documentary evidence collected from social media.

All the performers bar one were articulating their own experiences of the current conflict, with little rehearsal and in one take. This made the piece poignant and immediate.

The minotaur is a symbol of the decisions and choices which need to be made in war – we hear testimonies and at the end of the show, vote who to leave behind in the labyrinth and who to save.

Comprising an hour long performance in Ukrainian with English subtitles, followed by a Q&A with the artists, A Visit to the Minotaur is performed by I-DO Lab.

Image from A Visit to the Minotaur

They are “an independent performance company dedicated to the cutting edge, contemporary dramaturgy which aims to develop socially important cultural projects.”

Following Common Threads, their previous immersive show, A Visit to the Minotaur is the world premiere of this authentic performance, taking the political agenda and propaganda out of very personal stories of survival.

In bringing to the fore individual narratives and human moments, this show makes the current conflict much more real. Whether it is a snatch of birdsong after bombardment, or picking up discarded food off the floor so children can eat, these is the human element of ‘liberation’.

The fear of going to sleep against a wall which could crush you. The bewildering realisation of an old soldier who saw himself Russian but is now the enemy. A couple looking for a missing cat during post-bombing chaos.

Three stories touched me the most: the mother who could not evacuate a danger zone without leaving her two disabled children behind; a ‘green corridor’ transport taking children and the vulnerable to safety which was attacked, with most killed; an old man exiting his house before curfew and being shot dead.

The perceived safety of a community when it may not even be safe to hide in a foxhole in the garden. A war built on social media and the news. Shrapnel in gardens, tanks half buried in the sanctity of churchyards.

A Visit to the Minotaur cuts through what we might have read or heard in the media to tell us the truth as exprienced by those living it.

Presented in the language of the performers, this still resonated strongly and the cuts back to the minotaur, at each remove losing any sense of humanity, echoed this sense of war and sacrifice.

Credits: Olga Danylyuk, director; Roman Grygoriv, composer; Bogdan Ilchishin, video designer; Karina Varfolomeeva, Milena Medvid, Lisa Podgaiko, Oxana Avramenko, Michael Onyshko, Anatolly Zavorotniy, Esmira Gasanova, Johannes Birringer, performers; Richard Danylyuk, voiceover; Oleksiy Musika, translator; Fedir Aleksandrovych, stream.

For more on the Voila! Europe festival at The Cockpit go here. This year’s digital programme is free to view, but donations are encouraged.

For more on  I-DO Lab go here.