“So…You Knew?” presents a thought-provoking concept that requires some additional refinement, but the heart and soul of the production are undeniably present. One aspect that should never be altered is Bartolomeo Bartolini’s attitude and unwavering energy, which captivate the audience throughout.
The performance is an exhilarating one-man show that immerses the audience in a dynamic and multisensory experience. The performance employs sound effects and comprehensive video footage to create an engaging theatrical experience.
Bartolomeo Bartolini, the sole performer in the show, embodies the core message with an infectious passion that radiates from the stage. It is a rare sight to witness such fervour in a performance. Bartolini not only portrays multiple characters throughout the production but also dances, interacts with the audience, and even sings, becoming a one-man orchestra of talent.
The show begins with a slow start, taking us back to the 80s and Esson Mobil’s initial recognition of the impact of their actions, which the company conveniently chooses to ignore. From there, we follow Willie, a former scientist turned PR professional, as he navigates his corporate career at Esson and simultaneously balances his family life. However, the main plot is just one aspect of this production.
Alongside the central storyline, the audience is treated to a whirlwind of activism, featuring video projections, Rubik’s cube play, freestyle dance, and even an interactive quiz. It’s a melting pot of ideas, pulsating before our eyes on the intimate stage of the Barons Court Theatre.
But is it possible that this production veers into overload territory? The spirit of the show undoubtedly shines through, but it could benefit from some technical fine-tuning. The audio settings need adjustment, as the music occasionally overwhelms the performance, particularly towards the end. The video projections, while intriguing, occasionally steal focus from Bartolini himself. Perhaps a more stripped-down approach, with greater emphasis on the stage performance, would serve the play better.
The show incorporates various props, with the glow-in-the-dark wig leaving a lasting impression (Andy Warhol vibes? Maybe!). Bartolini’s energetic performance sees him darting from one corner of the stage to another, tossing props around, and quickly donning new costumes.
This rough, yet intensely personal aesthetic lends the show a unique charm.
It’s worth noting that the production also raises awareness about the UK-based (and global) activism targeted towards oil companies, adding a layer of significance to the overall experience. It serves as a reminder that we all have a role to play in addressing the climate crisis.
It’s an ambitious show that tackles a pressing global issue with passion and dedication. With some technical enhancements, this performance has the potential to become a truly exceptional theatrical experience. Nevertheless, it remains an admirable testament to the power of personal conviction and the urgent need for change.
Find out more about the organisations that inspired Bart to create the show: http://www.apsechoes.com/so-you-knew
About the show:
11-15 July 2023, Baron’s Court Theatre
Performer: Bartolomeo Bartolini
Director: Maria Cristina Petitti
Technician: Alice Catanzaro
Running time: 80 minutes, no interval.