Review: The Journey of a Warlike Mind, Cage (Vault Festival 2020)


Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸

The Journey of a Warlike Mind sees Ana Luiza Ulsig push the boundaries of artistic expression to deliver a vibrant, comedically-rich and affecting feminist exposé, that intimately delves into the inner workings of the mind, beautifully charting a journey of self-discovery and transformation from within.

Masterfully combining storytelling and dramatisation with movement, poeticism, dance, caricature and music, the work follows Eva on the most arduous journey of them all. Inside her own mind, as she finds the way to the bottom of her heart. Based on a true episode of a mental breakdown, which occurred during the impeachment process of Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rouseff, in 2016, Ulsig playfully challenges her audience to decide which stories are her own and which are borrowed from friends, though all are irrevocably true and as result, remarkably affecting. This collection of narratives artfully weaves together, juxtaposing the abstract with realism and comedy with despair to form a bitter-sweet adventure through imagination, fantasy, mystery, laughter and tears. Resulting in a Herculean exegesis on the female experience and ingrained patriarchal structures, from our silence in the face of oppression and sexual abuse to our attitudes positive or negative towards men. Ultimately concurring that the change first comes from within, beginning with seeking your essential voice.

Ulsig thus dextrously displays the complexities of finding this essential voice, staging the inherent tension between the voices which inhabit our minds. Eva’s many selfs proving to be a battleground she must persist through however difficult or painful it is. An emotive and witty demonstration of the importance of our mental health and the healing process, with the ugliness of pain and scars of trauma being powerful contrasted against the the beauty of transformation and learning to love and feel again.

Ulsig is an enamouring writer and performer, there is true hope, beauty and poetry to her words and the performance of them. She is vibrant, sharp-witted and intelligible, using a plethora of representative costume and props to spin an exhilarating adventure, hurtling at 100 miles an hour, cleverly using movement, music and dance to balance, segment and emote. Her characterisation and ability to instantaneously embody the many facets of Eva’s imagination is wondrous, from an excitable little boy, to a tobacco-smoking, ‘outside-eye’ film director, her melancholic and frail heart, to the manly man she is in potentially in love with, to Shakespeare himself and more. Eva’s relationship with men, through these imagined male figures, is therefore broken down, does she hate men? And if so, why does she hate them? Thus cleverly capturing the conflict and resolution of our brains. We also hilariously see Eva wrestle with the idea of love, is she in love? Is marriage what she wants? Or is it because that’s what’s expect of her? Whilst we heartbreakingly see her come face-to-face with the repressed scarring of sexual abuse. An exquisite snapshot into the modern female experience. Ulsig also beautifully frames her work with the character of Rose, a seeming signifier of all the women who have gone before Eva and all the women that will come after her. The narrative begins with Rose rising from her tomb, from the dead, from the past. She alerts for an imminent war and Eva’s journey begins. At the end Rose fades, a memory.

If you want to witness Ulsig’s prepossessing art and skill, catch The Journey of a Warlike Mind today! Click here.


Written and performed by Ana Luiza Ulsig

African Dance Supervision: Joana Marinho (Brazil)

Costume Design: Camila Crus (Brazil)

Rehearsals / Sound collaboration: Mariana Santos Silva (Portugal/UK)

Performative writing collaboration: Joseph Dunne-Dowrie (UK)

Character development collaboration: Olavo Cavalheiro (Brazil)

Artistic and Graphic Design: Sofie Ulsig & Radoslav Nedyalkov

Photos by Aidan Huxford

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