FringeReview Scotland 2017
Six dancers, one percussionist and a choreographer who bring us the story of the Sari from the cotton to the colour whilst showing a creative dance led interpretation of each process through a mixture of the traditional and new opportunities given by technology. We are taken from the cotton blossoming through carding and weaving to the dying and wearing of the cloth that is made before us. The use of video, aerial dexterity and a simple tale, simply told, make for a very engaging 50 minutes or so.
I must say that I loved this and for the whole time, felt transported from my seat into a world of ageless craftsmanship that was beautifully explained throughout with performances that were of a very high quality.
There were areas where I felt the episodic structure was less than helpful and that the quality of each segment was not as equal as you would hope but between the visually entrancing and the musical beauty before us was a feast for the eyes.
I had great joy in seeing the aerial integrated and it was done so with some aplomb. There were times, I felt that it was less successful and did not always make sense but there was no denying its majesty. When the swing to the crowd happened – mimicking a similar experience many years ago during a show called “Monkey” at the Tramway – it gave such pleasure as it showed how the risk taken can often bring great reward.
The other areas of joy came when we had the carding section as well as the opening and the dyeing sections. The performers gave of their all and we were, in a near full house, enthralled to watch.
The issues for me came in the technical aspects of it. The video work was good but the set did not allow those of us not centre to see it properly. Even in the middle it looked as though the backdrop, uneven and sculptured did not display the words as they should be read. Accompanying that was the front ropes that obscured much of it – though it did provide a nice visual effect – it was always going to be a tension between them I suppose and I think the placing of the projector needed thought.
The other area in which I struggled was set changes and transitions. They were at best patchy. Sometimes there was a seamlessness transition between helped by performers taking the responsibility and being hidden but at others we waited as dancers made their way in for attachments and placing, interrupting the narrative and flow. With such a creative crew and cast it would have not been beyond the team to find a smoother way of taking us from one place to another without all the spaces and gaps.
These are, however relatively minor gripes in what, for me, was a great way to spend an evening. The costumes, music and the set, especially (technical issues aside) were exceptional. I left, not singing, nor wanting to get my Sari out but with a deeper understanding of the importance of culture to a country 70 years young and with a tremendous future ahead which I hope I shall enjoy again, and again, and again