Edinburgh Fringe 2010
RashDash has never been a company happy to restrict its performers to performances in easily identified categories, and they continue that practice in their latest show. After an opening that indicates the show fits into a physical theatre context, Another Someone blasts through theatre, dance, cabaret and comedy before slamming into a brash samba music climax. It’s all done with great gusto and a certain charm, and they claim the show is about happiness. But all the happiness in the world won’t make up for the significant change of direction in the last twenty minutes (a section that sits uneasily against what is otherwise a strong production).
The plot doesn’t take much following, and is essentially something from which to hang the Rashdash company’s thoughts on happiness and how best to live one’s life. There’s a danger of that message (loosen up, don’t fret about the future when you could enjoy the present) being a bit preachy, but the cast manages to keep it within the non-didactic realm of the story they’ve created.
Early on, they throw together three significantly different characters, almost as if expecting that their falling-out will lead to big discussions on the nature of life and how to live. Uptight law graduate Holly (Abbie Greenland) is never likely to be compatible with the cheerful, but hardly aspiring, Jim and Ellie (Marc Graham and Helen Goalen). A clear clash has been set up early, and that becomes the key issue: the difference between having a life planned out and living in the present. It soon becomes clear which of these Rashdash think holds the answer to happiness.
But Another Someone isn’t just a play. All three performers are also skilled dancers and their visually dynamic show is punctuated with sharp, lively choreography. In fact, the relationships between the three characters are often displayed much more clearly in the dance sequences than in the spoken scenes. But could it be a leaning towards dance over theatre that leads this company into a final twenty minutes or so of quasi-surreality that fits nowhere into the rest of the show? This introspection in Holly’s character, with its back-to-basics, in-touch-with-nature message, doesn’t fit with what we know of her at all, and is one more example of the dance parts of Another Someone not quite slotting seamlessly in with the acting.
With performances ranging through acting, dance and some muscular singing, Another Someone is a heady mix of genres and one that willingly acknowledges its theatricality. In the corner sits their musician, tootling away on the keyboard and providing occasional commentary on the action. Sometimes she’s the voice in Holly’s head, but more often than not she’s apologising for the deficiencies of the stage and asking the audience to use their imaginations in creating, say, a party scene out of one woman standing onstage. In many ways, this is a very honest and open performance; it almost feels like we’re being given an insight in the personalities of these four performers and the things that make them individually happy.
Of the actors Goalen is the most impressive, but it is not to detract from any of the three to say that their best moments come in the visceral, full-bodied dance sequences scattered throughout Another Someone. If those dances – especially the ones in the last twenty minute section – fitted into the plot more smoothly (something Rashdash is more than capable of) they would be even more accomplished.
However much they try to end on a high note, Rashdash can’t quite cover up the gear shift that sees Holly wandering through some forest of dreams and memories and apparently abandoning her life’s ambitions. It’s unfortunate that this is allowed to mar what is otherwise a complete theatrical experience.