Edinburgh Fringe 2019
A science fiction/science fact/fantasy futurisms/dubstep mashup. Or just some moves in the night. Working on My Night Moves is the latest live art work by award-winning artists Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan, some of the brains behind previous Fringe hits Power Ballad (2017) and If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming (2016).
A deconstructed Wizard of Oz, a homage to 50 years since the first moon walk, a lesson in how to incorporate trainers with lit soles (really cool) into a contemporary dance piece without distracting from the serious intent? Working on my Night Moves can be whatever you, the observer, wants if you approach with an open mind and heart.
There will be many interpretations of the same performance. Try this on for size; a theatre stagehand moves efficiently in her workspace, fast but calm, she moves ladders, repositions lights, piles and re-piles stacks of chairs. Gradually the world turns upside down with the lights on the floor and the chairs hanging from the ceiling.
Transmissions from space, a car radio, or a night club speaker fade in and out; Toto briefly barks for us. The technician, also a woman, is on view behind a tiny console, not unusual for a fringe show to be sharing space with the audience, but then this one breaks the rules and starts joining in, even briefly puts on a costume. Two Dorothys, one feet firmly on the ground the other caught in a still life chaos of chair legs, upturned ladders and twisted cables.
By the end we are all swimming in the galaxy, peacefully observing millions of stars. Or we could be simply heady at the end of a good night out, a trail of torn up tin foil the detritus of our evening as the lights come up and we blearily see who we have been bopping to Bob Seeger, The Killers and Nina Simone with.
She, the stress on the female pronoun, because although things are changing most stage crew and techies are still men. What is being explored here? Maybe that women are (of course) equal to men in getting the show on the road, that women can control a space with strength and agility, or that however hard you try to the force of the hurricane will always whip your feet from under you, glittery high heels are not the footwear for challenging the patriarchy.
Being in a dark warm space at the end of a long damp Edinburgh day Working on my Night Moves was a blessed opportunity to engage in mindfulness. To be aware and present in a performance but also to drift along thought lines sparked by what you could see and hear. It has a light touch, but is earnest in its intent.
The one irritating factor was the constraint of the space. I feel we lost out by sitting in a traditional, rather cramped auditorium without the freedom to immerse ourselves in the action and it was a pain turning round to catch bits of the performance. At the start of the show we walk into the performance space with an invitation to stay there or sit down. We were all hide bound by convention and chose to be a seated audience, perhaps Working On My Night Moves needs to be experienced with more bravery by hanging out on stage. It is a fun, engaging and thought-provoking piece of physical theatre with no words, which makes it accessible to a wide adult audience. Highly recommended viewing.