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Edinburgh Fringe 2017

The North

Joan Clevillé Dance

Genre: Dance, Physical Theatre

Venue: Dance Base


Low Down

“…the bleak yet whimsical story of a young man’s journey in search for meaning in an unpredictable environment. A place with its own sense of time and space, where being lost is the norm and letting go the only way to survive…”


Joan Clevillé Dance Company presents their second full-length work at the 2017 Fringe. Their first was the successful Plan B for Utopia at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe. The North is a show about an imaginary place that disorients a displaced person, a man who arrives one day, for no apparent reason. He is confused and frustrated and searches the sparse terrain for anything relatable to make contact with the outside world and find out why he has landed there, somewhat unceremoniously.

He seeks meaning in what he sees around him in this fascinating piece, with touches of quirky humour and irony, choreographed by Joan Clevillé in collaboration with the dancers. Two female performers (Eve Ganneau and Solene Weinachter) dressed in shiny gold jeans and fair-isle sweaters live in this land, and are the man’s only source of social contact and connection to humanity. They work together, calmly provoking him with spare well chosen words of dialogue to accept their mores and expectations of their society, while they also express themselves through crisp idiosyncratic physical movements and dance motifs.

The man, played by John Kendall is real in his reactions to the strange land and to his two acquaintances, which are both decidedly stylized in everything they do. This is a clever deconstructed piece which surprises and provokes, it’s also part bizarre and part performance art. Kendall’s dance solo set to rhythmic music (Original Music and Sound Design by Luke Sutherland) is fluid and expansive as he rolls and leaps across the space, free yet searching for a way out. The push pull movement dynamics add to his inner struggle, it’s wonderful and a highlight of the piece.

The set that develops during the show (Costume and Set Design by Matthias Strahm) is visually attractive and effective in its simplicity. When watching The North and hearing the brief dialogue, one becomes quizzical about things that we take for granted. For example, if there is a North, is there a South? What is life as we know it and how would we react if displaced unknowingly? How is the environment affecting us? These are themes very much in the news these days, and while this piece is whimsical on the surface, there are some deeper parallels that can be considered. The last part of the show takes longer than needed to make its point. No doubt this will adjust as the run continues of this show.