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FringeReview Scotland 2014

Invisible Empire

Company of Wolves

Genre: Dance and Movement Theatre

Venue: The Platform at the Bridge,


Low Down

Siberian and Albian polyphonies haunt and entrance in a performance that uses the sounds of some excellent music as a beginning, middle and end to a movement sequence that is entrancing though at sometimes confusing. Never short of engaging this was an exploration with much to say.


5 actors enter on stage where there are five chairs in a corner. A beautifully haunting song follows with no accompaniment before they go into a movement sequence with all of them following the same pattern. It is interrupted when one has something to say and then each in turn stops to join in. Afterwards the cast dash between the chairs which are put into a pattern. Once again the pattern is interrupted but on this occasion when the actors physically stop – either by using the chairs or standing to look out at us. From there the chairs get used as props as they are dragged around in another pattern. Further movement and song follows before we end on a final haunting melody that has all 5 coming towards a light down centre stage. They appear to be grasping towards its energy as the piece ends with it going out.

The performance was engaging because of the beauty of the songs and the commitment of the actors. It shone through but its intention of challenging complacency, standing firm and being resistant to the morass of modern life was lost somewhere in translation.

If we take the spoken word in English that was used, it left me wondering where its genesis had been and where it was heading – I felt caught in a middle and wondered if it was also a muddle. Whilst I wasn’t looking for much by way of sense, I sought more sense when one actor was speaking and became increasingly distressed. I got the idea of why she was becoming so animated but I needed a little more to feel that I was connected with the original intention of the piece. I also have a minor gripe which is that chairs, no matter how artistically dragged, scrape on the floor with a sound that goes right through you… It is, however a personal thing…

This left me confused over the direction of the piece but when I let go and immersed myself in the experience I felt far more connected. I loved the piece at the end, was enthralled by the song and the movement had me throughout. Did I really need to connect it with its original intentions should I not just enjoy it?

Overall it was an interesting evening though one which asked questions of theatre for me more than modern society as it intended. I was interested in where it started, would be fascinated in knowing where it ends up but at this point was feeling that it didn’t quite get my vote in being true to its beginning or have a clear idea of its destination. 


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