They played the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011, where they were awarded Melvyn Stutter’s Spirit of the Fringe award; they toured Germany, Denmark and Austria in 2012 where they went down a storm; now it’s London’s turn to be alternately puzzled and dazzled by the ‘technodelic’ mix of live action, video, sound, comedy and strangeness that is Siro-A.
I have to admit that Yannick and I headed down to the Leicester Square Theatre in a state of some trepidation – it’s not easy to get a grip on what a Siro-A show will be like unless you’ve seen one and there hovered over our heads the awful fear that it might involve audience participation, a fear which seemed all too justified when we were met by this character touring the auditorium before the show started.
When the lights went down we held our breath; there was indeed some mild tweaking of the audience’s tail, but done, in line with the spirit of the show, by way of video projection. Phew!
The show is slick, speedy and oddly hypnotic. The sound is an unremitting techno beat (‘isn’t Leicester Square quiet?’ said Yannick when we came out) and the visuals mix flashing lights and video-projected illusions with mime and energetic dancing (hip-hop, with some popping and locking). It’s infused with gentle comedy, like a Chaplin film run very fast with a sixties psychedelic vibe on top. Part of the fun comes from thinking ‘how do they do that? as real people and visual projections interact with practised ease.
Along the way they poke satirical fun at video games and T-shirt logos, multiply themselves into video duplicates, catch video balls and throw back real ones and generally entertain, bedazzle and sometimes bamboozle you. A lot of it is done in monochrome giving the rare scenes of full-on psychedelia all the more impact. My favourite bit was the mocking biography of of band member Toshinori Abe, right down to homing in on his house on Google Earth and telling you his pin number.
Here’s a taster from their trailer for the show:
Siro-A is made up of four performers, a video artist and a sound programmer, plus a behind-the-scenes director. They come from Sendai in Tohoku, where they all went to the same school, and got together as a group in 2002.
Their name combines the Japanese word for white (siro, usually romanised as shiro), signifying no colour, with the letter A, signifying no name. Their stated aim is to set personality and ego aside and stimulate the viewer’s brain directly, like a chemical reaction in which they themselves are also changed.
I’m not sure that I really got that, but whatever it was, we enjoyed it. The show runs until 22 April and only lasts an hour, so pop in and see it. Tickets are £17 and you can book online.