The One-on-One Festival is all about you. In every nook and cranny at the Battersea Arts Centre, performances are happening with only you in mind, intimate experiences for an audience of one. It sounds like a daunting prospect, to be the centre of so much artistic attention, but it’s not at all. It’s a warm environment where you are constantly taken care of and cradled (in some cases literally); there’s nothing to be scared of here.
I get emotionally sucker punched right from the beginning with the incomparable Smile Off Your Face by Ontroerend Goed. Experienced for the most part in complete darkness, your senses are pricked and your emotions teased into extreme reactions ranging from joy to, in my case, tears. You feel soft hands and smell musky cologne which lingers with you for hours, and when you are allowed to see, the beauty and wit of the imagery is blinding. It may sound like hyperbole, but this transcendent piece more than lives up to the buzz surrounding it.
Next up is poor old It’s Your Film by Stan’s Café, which doesn’t stand a chance after the therapy I’ve just been through. But it’s a clever concept, a film performed just for you, and neatly done if a little slight. Natalie L’Herroux sweetly invites me to clamber through a wardrobe in the aptly named Through The Wardrobe, and I crawl through a tiny door into a room crammed with clothes. She sprays me with scent and we play dress up. I get to borrow the pretty pink scarf she feels suits me for the rest of the day; it’s a simple but magical moment.
You Me Nothing, Franko B’s airy, minimalist installation, allows me to kick off my shoes and have some much needed space for reflection. Unless you allow yourself time around each of these potent encounters to recover some equilibrium, the stains of the previous show impact on the next.
Onto A Little Bit of a Beautiful Thing, where the history of a gnarled beam of oak is charmingly explained to me by Barnaby Stone. You get to take a little bit of it with you and I’m going to be framing mine.
Before I know it I’m doing karaoke with some actually pretty tuneful soldiers in Quarantine’s deeply enjoyable, The Soldier’s Song, and speaking for one minute to a very cheerful Ed Rapley . I end the day by making a written vow in King’s of England’s I Vow to Thee My Country. It’s a great way to finish because it feels, as this whole festival does, like an important and vital thing to do.
Written for Whats On Stage
One-on-One Festival runs until 18th July.