Belt Up

Written for The List (662)

Remember that unruly rabble that spent last August squatting in C Soco? The ones that kept partying and fighting the nights away with hordes of strangers? Well, they’re back, and this time they’re really making themselves at home.

The rabble in question could only be Belt Up, whose jam-packed programmes of audience-centric work at the last two Fringes converted critics and the public alike.

The company’s MO is to take over some remote corner of C Venues to serve as the setting for all their shows; this year, a section of C Soco becomes The House Above, a kitsch and cosy domicile complete with garden. It’s in the company’s interests to make the place feel like home. With an incredible nine shows on the bill, plus their usual array of secret late-night events, they’ll be near-permanent residents there.

‘We have a knack for casting people with superhuman strength and infinite energy,’ shrugs James Wilkes, one of Belt Up’s founding writer-director-performers, as if such übermensch are ten a penny on CastingCallPro. ‘And nothing’s more energising than a good audience.’

The audience is the backbone of every Belt Up show. Every day in The House Above, audiences will become figments of a narcissistic artist’s imagination (in Wilkes’ brand new Atrium), mourners at princess Antigone’s wake (in Alexander Wright’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone), houseguests of the Samsa family (in an updated version of Metamorphosis, the production that launched the company at the NSDF in 2008) – and in Dominic J Allen’s Lorca Is Dead, the entire audience, as a collective, will become the Surrealist poet Federico Garcia Lorca.

If that sounds exhausting, take heart: Wilkes is prepared to reveal the true source of Belt Up’s superhuman endurance. He admits: ‘A lot of us consume a lot of Berocca…’


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