There are highs, and there are lows. There are moments of brilliance, and moments of boredom. Flickering of images from projectors and trance-inducing music. Laurie Anderson’s performance Delusion at the Barbican Centre touches on so much and so little that it both jogged my senses and put me to sleep.


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Anderson is the American born experimental music, visual and spoken work artist who weaves together her sonic waves of music with visual films whilst creating mirandering stories in her dreamlike state of a voice. Her latest show, Delusion is apparently (according to the programme notes) a series of short mystery plays in her own branded form of experimentation with music made from her violin against a visual background.

Separately each of the devices used in Delirum are spellbinding for the audience. The music Anderson fuses together along with Eyvind Kang viola and Colin Stetsons horn, is beautiful. At times distant, chaotic or even simple and melodic, Anderson weaves the music for the piece in glorious souring moments that fill the auditorium of the Barbican Theatre easily.

The projected videos are alluring to some of the elements played out in the narrative voice overs Anderson delivers. They loop, stop, flicker between moments in various screens of different sizes. Coupled with the music you would forget that you’re watching a theatre piece and instead watching a multimedia based film.

Andersons stories and tales combine fictional material, wandering thoughts of herself and interwoven commentaries upon the world around here of that day. She speaks of the electoral debate happening right now as her performance takes place, she comments on the ash cloud drifting far ahead of us from Iceland. These moments of ‘real life material’ are humorous, but also allow us to see that beyond the theatre there is a world far greater than what Anderson is condensing down in lyrical form.

Equally Anderson uses her characteristic voice to create conversations between herself and her alter ego. It offers depth to the words and stories she weaves and portrays.

Yet despite the individual beauty within Andersons work, there is a strong sense of conflict between the elements. Nothing seems to match up fully to make the piece accessible. As an audience we catch moments that are being fragmented. Nothing makes sense and nothing therefore becomes tangible for us.

There is a distinct lack of tempo to the piece, where it is all played out in the same whimsical slow trailing thoughts, empathised by Anderson’s own alluring voice. The 90 minutes are a treat to the eyes and ears, but offers little for a complete bodily experience, and whilst moments were engaging I couldn’t help but to wonder when it would all be over.

Delusion is playing at the Barbican Theatre until 17th April 2010. See the website for more details.