‘There’s a Giant in the Park…!’ Waterlitz in Mayflower Park – Reviewed

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This slogan, seen all over Southampton in recent weeks in the run-up to Sunday night’s event, refers to the giant Omni Man that dominated Southampton’s Mayflower Park over the weekend. Created from eight shipping containers and standing tall at nineteen metres, the structure was truly something to behold, dwarfing its surroundings.

At 10pm the creature was brought to life in a spectacular show entitled Waterlitz which featured pyrotechnics, stunts, a cardboard box waterfall and aerial feats performed with the assistance of a crane.

The event was performed by French company Générik Vapeur and had been brought to the city by Southampton City Council and The Nuffield Theatre. The event, supported by EU funding, was part of the Art at the Heart programme of cultural events which has been taking place in the city.

The Nuffield’s artistic director Patrick Sandford introduced the performance which was attended by an estimated audience of 5000 people including the Mayor of Southampton as well as city councillors and Nuffield staff.

The number of people that attended the event was particularly positive in light of the event having been postponed from the Saturday night due to unsafe weather conditions. The enormous crowd was generally very appreciative, in spite of having waited in the rain for up to two hours for the spectacle to begin. The show’s meaning, however, delivered principally in French, was lost on some.

Second year English student Lydia Longman, one of the event’s volunteer stewards, described the show as

Trippy yet brilliant

This was a sentiment which seemed to be shared by many.

Some parts of the show did feel like filler whilst something else was being prepared but in all fairness this is probably exactly what they were and what followed these quiter interludes was extradordinary.

Fireworks were shot out of a bow like arrows, there was Spiderman-style crawling down the Omni man and also constantly morphing projections which delighted the audience. A bird, a polar bear, a bi-plane trailing glitter, a car and a steam ship all travelled in front of the man with the assistance of a crane, the sky surrounding the structure acting as an extended set. On one occasion, a bike was projected riding across the arms of the metal beheamoth before a real bike emerged from the side of the Omni Man and hovered in mid-air.

With many asking if the event will return to Southampton in future years, it seems certain that these free cultural events have begun to capture the public interest here in the city.

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Undergraduate student studying English Literature and French. I write features and theatre reviews.

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