Friday 20 July 2018

Refract:18 Launch at Waterside, Sale - including Long Shot by PanGottic review.

Refract is the annual Summer arts festival at Waterside in Sale. Featuring events, performances and music that challenges you to think differently, this is a huge programme which starts 19th July and runs for 9 days until the finale on Saturday 28th - music from the very popular The Magic Numbers.

We were invited along to the launch at Waterside in Sale, which includes a performance of Long Shot by PanGottic. The festival offers something for all ages, and Long Shot is suitable for age 7+.

We were promised "a catapultastic evening of clowning, contraptions, comedy and courage, as one man’s belief in the near impossible is put to the test" and I think that sums it up perfectly.

Long Shot really is one heck of a show. A single performer, Matt Pang, with amazing home-made contraptions which blast rubber baseballs around the stage - plus excellent timing and positioning, loads of laughs and masses of audience participation. It was great.

The spring-loaded ball firing machines weren't in any way haphazard, they were carefully positioned and it led to quite acrobatic choreographed routines. It really didn't matter that a couple didn't go to plan, it made the successes all the more valuable and exciting.

Our 9 year old was invited onto stage and had control of a very important button. The button was a remote control for one of the ball catapults and he was clearly very nervous about doing it right. I noticed him start to worry and so did the performer, Matt. He immediately gestured to my son that everything was fine, and smiled and gave him his confidence back. It's an attention to detail which made every difference and my son was so excited to tell everyone at school today.

Highlight of the show was the final trick, which required a tall audience participant and involved a water balloon and a fork. Russian roulette with the stake half a cup of water over your head, while standing in the world's tiniest paddling pool, is just fantastic. We laughed and laughed. The entire performance is language-free, the performer has an amazing range of expression and anyone can follow the action. The children adored it.

Long shot is incredibly clever, and so much more of a comedy than I anticipated. For one performer to carry the entire performance and maintain the energy needed is bravery in itself, and it definitely fulfilled the remit of making us 'See Things Differently'.

We were lucky enough to meet the Matt Pang at the end and we even got to press the button on the remote and ask a few questions. Don't tell anyone, but the finale, with the apple on his head, hasn't always gone to plan in rehearsals...

Long Shot is a fabulous 1 hour show which is great fun for audiences of all ages around 7+, although some younger children will very much enjoy it too. Our tickets were free for review, but would have been an incredibly reasonable £10 per adult and £8 per child. Don't try it at home, especially not the darts. ..

Long Shot was the opening performance for Refract 2018, Waterside Arts annual festival with 10 days of performances to make you look at things differently. 

Refract has a huge programme of events, and I've listed some especially suited to school aged children below, but you can find the entire programme, including messy play, dance, cabaret, arts and crafts workshops and more, on the Refract website. Some events, (including Waterside's amazing re:cast display of especially commissioned ceramics in the gallery) are free, but most have a very reasonable charge. 

Refract18 Highlights include: 

The Tale of the Cockatrice
Sunday 22 July, 1.30 and 3.30pm - for ages 5-12.
Breath-taking puppetry and spine-tingling live music combine in this dark and winding fable for monster-lovers young and old.

Saturday and Sunday 21 and 22 July at 6.30pm
War with the Newts. Age 12+.
In association with The Royal Exchange Theatre, Square Chapel arts centre and Waterside. Based on an original 1930's novel, set in the hull of a fishing vessel, the plot follows the unfurling of events after the discovery of an intelligent race of newts.

Wednesday 25th July at 10.15, 11.45, 1.15 and 2.45
Small Worlds. Age 5-11.
Extraordinary theatre inside a magical canvas dome with five wordless characters - a bug, a goose, a fox cub, a cat and a six year old girl. Unforgettable visual theatre, using puppetry, miniature landscapes and original animated film and music.

Thursday 26 July at 7.30pm
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical. Age 12+
A brand new musical comedy is created from scratch at each performance as audience suggestions are transformed on the spot into the all singing, all dancing productions with hilarious results.

Saturday 28 July at 11.30 and 2.30pm
Perfect. Age 5-9.  
A young boy waits excitedly for the birth of his new sibling and then meets his disabled sister for the first time. Puppetry, live music, animation and physical theatre from the award-winning Tessa Bide.

Full line up - or follow the hashtag on Social Media #refract18

The photos show a handful of the re:cast art installation pieces by Katie Nelson and Grace Igoe in the Waterside gallery.

We attended #refract18 as guests in order to review.

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