Tag Archives: circus

Review: Adrift, Z-Arts

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Adrift (a work in progress) by Kapow! Dance

Z-Arts, Manchester [17.07.17]

You are invited to witness two bodies. Lost and found at sea. Friends, Lovers, Enemies, Strangers. The only thing that is consistent is some sort of relationship because the sea and the raft change direction and momentum continually.

Adrift is an exploration of stories at sea, portrayed by two women on a pivoting raft journeying across waters built on melted plastic bags. Part environmental commentary, part relationships case study, this piece challenges us to reflect on what moments between two people truly mean and how our actions impact those closest to us. We see this quite literally in Adrift. One movement from one of the women will cause a complete change in the other’s positioning. This presents us with a view from which to examine the changing power balance between the women at different points in their far water escapades.

The most visually interesting moment for me were watching the women on opposite corners of the raft, slowly dipping up and down in a circular fashion. This continued simplistic image, gave host to a whole heap of thoughts surrounding the mundane nature of life even when things are hectic and how routine doesn’t venture too far from our mental doorsteps. It also placed a great deal of acknowledgement towards how someone can hugely affect someone else by doing very little. I guess that’s almost like when we see something bad happen to someone else but don’t always do anything about it. It reminded me of that poem about keeping your own yam on your table from GCSE English Lit.

The use of body percussion alongside stunning lift and balance sequences make this piece perfect to experience in the round with little need for extravagant staging. The trust between the two dancers during their balances is an active sharing of trust and honesty between them but also with the space and the audience members in the room. It fosters a sense of unity which is hard to achieve in smaller scale works and even more challenging when a work is so early in its development as this piece. For this reason, this effort is to be applauded.

Verdict: Adrift is an exciting piece of dance theatre that is already showing bags of potential in the early stages of its development. Excited to see the completed product.

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Review: Jetlag, The Arts Centre

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Image: Thomas Barlatier, Tristan Galand and Yves Kerstius

Jetlag by Compagnie Chaliwaté

The Arts Centre, Liverpool [27.05.17]

Three passengers to be, waiting in the departures lounge. One hyper-synchronised couple. One lone man. A seat giving up on its join and tipping said man onto the floor. An awkward yet valiant attempt to fix said seat back on to the others. A decision to re-attach seat back to front. A need to be a sheep and mirror the seated couple. And so, we begin.

Jetlag is an almost language-free, physical and visual exploration of airport etiquette, loneliness, missing mothers and the dreaded Third Wheel syndrome. Through a blend of circus, gesture and dance theatre, Chaliwaté an unusual yet honest exploration of what it means to be alone and to be displaced from the world around you. We are invited to be a fly on the wall and observe a man who is lost and searching for some sort of affection but, most importantly, validation. It is the moments of silence and stillness within this piece that really make this piece relateable. We are reminded of times in our own lives when we have felt completely alone despite being in the presence of others. And there is something quite cathartic about having this time to reflect on this state both as an individual and collectively as an audience.

Jetlag is a very humorous piece of theatre that offers its audience tableaux and moments that would easily put Mr Bean to shame. Gags are well timed and delivered playfully, often using changes of lighting and circus performance to provide the audience with a mish-mashed palette of experiences that left many of the audience laughing aloud. Chaliwaté successfully delivered an array of quintessentially “British problems” with an original twist highlighting that awkwardly asking people to stand up whilst you pass them and struggling to establish use of your arm rest are in fact just general awkward people problems. And to top this off, whilst the couple are sleeping on the flight and the man tries to climb over them, they resemble Grant Wood’s American Gothic being exposed to the joys of flying by Ryan Air. Absolute comedy gold!

The attention to detail with the physicality of this piece makes it an engaging and exciting spectacle for its audience. Each gesture is nuanced and delivered with intent and in a piece that doesn’t depend on language this is crucial for it to work. Through embraces, caresses, lifts, the folding of clothes and beautiful unison phrases, we are successfully taken on a journey with these lovable yet slightly odd characters.

Verdict: Jetlag is a captivating piece of physical theatre that could easily be delivered in complete silence, as the cast are able to bring humour, emotion and a truthfulness to their performance. This has certainly been an insightful experience for developing my own practice. Definitely worth seeing!

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Review: The Toad Knew, The Lowry

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Photo Richard Haughton

The Toad Knew by James Thierrée’s Compagnie du Hanneton

The Lowry, Salford [10.05.17]

A woman draped in a red cape crosses the stage singing. We hear the strike of a match and see an amber glow in her hood. She melts into the stage curtain of matching velvety fabric and then it is peeled away to reveal the residency of the moment that is about to unfold.

The Toad Knew could be a story. It could be a play. It could be a dance. But it is most certainly a moment. A moment in a space that resembles a room that one could only imagine finding down the rabbit hole. Except this is no rabbit hole. Despite having a bizarre essence of Alice in Wonderland about it, The Toad Knew has a peculiarity all of its own that comes in part from its onlookers. Everything from the rotating staircase to the pond in the tank to the flacks of dusty carpet derive part of their meaning from you. As the experiencer, you paint part of the meaning into this spectacle and that’s part of what makes it so unique and beautiful.

Tonight, I watched a piece of theatre swallow itself over and over again. What started as a levitating space age swamp filled with galactic kites soon grows into a home of sorts. Its inhabitants whilst on the surface appear rather unusual, on closer examination are a physical manifestation of feelings we have lived and a multitude of versions of ourselves and those around us. We observe the relationships between these unnamed characters and through their physicality and personal quirks, they are able to speak volumes that surpass that surpass the limits of the English language. There is nothing concrete here. All interactions are fluid and a relationship that could be perceived as father-daughter, brother-sister, lovers can exist as all of these things and none of them simultaneously.

Nothing in the world that we have been invited into is fixed. Water still trickles, sawdust still falls, girls still float in water temporarily and lights still shine bright. Among compulsive gyrations, a piano that plays itself whenever there is an ‘elephant in the room’ sensation and an array of prosthetic limbs and wigs, we are sent on a journey filled with revelation that is quiet by nature. This is not the place for Eurekas and soul searching. It is the place for being in the moment and knowing that it’s okay to relive your memories and decipher your dreams in a room filled with other people. It’s also okay to not know what is happening because you feel that there’s a universal correct way to look at this moment that we’re all participating in. What you can know for sure is that whatever you feel about it is not wrong.

The Toad Knew is a reaction, a unity and a change that prompts us to reflect on our commitments in this moment and externally. Repetition and precision in intriguing movements encourage us to engage in a habitual pursuit of a story that doesn’t have a beginning, a middle or an end. Instead, we are left trinkets of may have been and what could be: sleep disturbance, being held back and wanting to do the right thing. And we’ve all had the feeling of not wanting to let someone go that is truthfully conveyed to the sound of These Arms Of Mine.

Three pairs of arms carried silverware and one body danced under foiled shackles that dazzled and humoured the light. It is hard not to write about this moment in a poetic manner given that it defied the parameters of prose and made its physicality audible. As soon as stacks of silverware were balanced, they soon littered the floor. In the onstage frenzy to pick them up and toss them aimlessly into the tank/pond, we are reminded that there is an unspoken urgency to ‘get your shit together’ – no matter the space or time. But this doesn’t mean you need to do it right now and you certainly don’t need to brush your desires under the carpet in order to do so.

To end this moment, the toad appears in all its white, evocative glory and devours each of our characters whole. One by one. Time still turns and ticks and flows. But, our moment is soon to pass. The Toad tells us of the thoughts that she cannot keep track of, for there are so many. Each of these moments that lived in and devoured each other are not easily described in words. They are not concrete. But these characters, their acts, their journeys, their habits – they are all thoughts. Thoughts that we’ve all had in different manners and different contexts.

Verdict: The Toad Knew is an exquisite and unique moment trapped in a kaleidoscope and admired under the gaze of an honest and personal magnifying glass. Somewhat disturbed but hilariously peculiar, this is a compelling and captivating piece of theatre that reminds us that it’s not about the conclusion, but the journey that you take to get there and the meaning that you derive along the way. A stunningly original moment that we would all benefit from experiencing.

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