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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

End without Days

Stephen Pelton Dance Theatre

Genre: Dance, Dance and Movement Theatre, Physical Theatre

Venue: Dance Base - Studio 3


Low Down

Mystery and surprise for a man with a blindfold standing alone onstage as a woman comes to guide him. He has flowers hidden behind him and as they are offered and accepted, before being returned, we explore the physical messages of time, lost, gained, and remembered, things suddenly ending, and a distance we cannot cross to make more of ourselves together.


There is an absolute beauty in this which left me feeling utterly privileged to witness it. It was sumptuous. The narrative based around all of the events which have touched choreographer, Stephen Pelton, including his residency at Dance Base in 2018, the diversity of the Family Separation Policy at the US/Mexico border by the Trump administration, the loss of his father, due to an illness causing communication issues, COVID itself and a dream of a squad firing his imagination into where he could capture moments and place them together is imagined here in an exceptional piece of movement.

The development of the dramaturgy holds central ideas at its heart as we have each of these elements – especially the communication difficulties that come from the COVID pandemic, the loss of a loved one with whom you witness their physical communication difficulties and the promise of something missing, like reuniting with someone after 40 years, only to have that taken away – is realised. You had that sense throughout that each step was measured in the physical telling of a number of tales, each with their own unique pattern to add to the fabric of the movement and we were in the presence of an intimate and unique moment of their time.

Performers Freya Jeffs and Edd Milton are imperious in capturing the spirits of each of those elements and performing them for us with ebb and flow throughout. Pair work is of such grace that it leaves you grasping for superlatives.

This empty arena, with music from Purcell and Marc Kate allowed us to wallow in the feelings of a time when the breadth of experience was being matched by the breadth of the music. Added to the simplicity of the set, we got what was needed to platform the majesty of pain, the suffering of each as they tried to communicate but were unable to quite get things as connected as they clearly desired. Their desire was not dampened, but their movement showed us they were still hopeful.

I left with a sense of having seen a very soulful piece of dance which shall stay with me for some time. It reminded me of the story of the Lithuanian rising when the Soviet Union collapsed, and people stopped tanks offering the Soviet conscripts flowers as resistance. It has no connection to the source material here but reminded me of how one creative thought can, through connection, lead to new creative thinking. I left content and very happy.