Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Six dancers all in white, exploding colour, 6 episodes of a story where death is brought in each but the man responsible for each death is himself brought to some form of restorative justice by the end. This is high end fight sequences with breath taking stunts and impressive storylines.
There are six dancers who enter and are all in white, their innocence seemingly pleading with us until on their bodies there is an explosion and paint is now covers part of their costume. From there we see each dancer colour in their characters as five become fodder. They are the prey for the one who is supposed to be imprisoned but is free to pursue his blood lust. By the end a thin alliance of the five come to take him down and cage him once again.
This is an exceptional piece of theatre that lived long in my memory after I had seen it. With increasingly spectacular dance moves we see a six episodes in darkness that are simply stunning. There were gasps and shakings of head when the audience marvelled at the athleticism and daredevil joy that came with each of the sequences.
The six dance sequences manage to do more than simply leave you in awe of their acrobatic ability. It is the fusion with a narrative that takes it beyond its physical. There is clearly a story here that is worth the telling and its macabre heart is well explored. With the first sequence shows anguish, the second love broken apart by death, the third brings in humour with one of the dancers playing it for laughs with lights on the floor until he too is the target of this young man’s rage, sequence four shows how tangled love can be as the hopeful boy ends up without the girl whilst sequence five brings in the captive in the tressel ladder who is freed by the comic character. Finally, the final sequence shows Mr Serial Killer being ganged up on and returned to the cage that sits as a symbol throughout. The theatricality of it was what mattered most and whilst the pace never really relented it became a story that had the peaks and troughs to follow.
I started to struggle a little with the pace of the narrative about sequence five though by the end I was so in awe of their chorography that I cared little about what the story meant. On the way out we all got an anime book for our Fringe experience and had I had that at the beginning there would have been no confusion; all was made clear.
That it all made sense by the end with the guide does not take away from the performance. There were frequent high points like the scene with one captive using ladders, the “jellyfish” sequence and the morbid beauty of the girl and boy who dies were astounding. That was a tremendous piece of theatre which set up the next boy to love her then caught up in the red material of her pain, tears, his blood was highly symbolic.
The use of props – especially those “jellyfish” – and the red material along with the box that had no physical walls but clearly had walls in the minds of its captive were more than functional – they became part of the story as visual metaphors.
As they were so committed, the heightened sense of connection between you and the wish that they all would be safe made it a joint experience. I did have to temper my inner mummy as I saw the polythene left behind on the floor as awfully slippy and likely to cause an accident. How they cleared it up and took it away was highly inventive, creative and clever.
If you like dance, if you like physical theatre and are fascinated by the macabre, I challenge you to find a better and more compact example of all three in a 50 minute show that sparkles like this. I shall seek it but I expect to do so in vain.