14 June 2013

Not Until We Are Lost at the Rose Theatre (artistic aerial excellence)

I love performances that are different and have been critical of the Rose Theatre in Kingston for playing it safe with well know plays. So it was a double delight to see something very unusual and to see it at the Rose.

Not Until We Are Lost, by Ockham's Razor, is hard to classify. Classification was not necessary to enjoy it but it does help to explain what it was to other people. I have opted to use the tags "dance" and "circus" though it was definitely more at the dance end of that spectrum.

The performance used two sets of apparatus, a perspex tower and a climbing frame with a section of vertical bars that could swing freely.

The five performers used circus skills to climb, slide, crawl and jump on the apparatus, which obviously required a good deal of technical skills.

What they produced with those skills was dance in that it was the movements and the shapes that were important, not the technical skills used to make them.

Some of the shapes and movements were pleasingly geometric and others told a silent story, and this meant that the performers had to act too. In one of the most memorable scenes one of the ladies was very unhappy and it took a lot of comforting from two of the men to cheer her up. This comforting involved climbing over her, swinging with her and throwing her between them.

The staging was very unusual too. The main apparatus was erected in the Pit, several rows of seats were removed to make way for it, and the tower was on the stage. We, the audience, stood throughout the performance (some seats made from rolled-up cardboard were provided for the less able) and were encouraged to move around during the performance.

It was a brilliant idea and I moved almost constantly to get different perspective on the performance.

There was a lot about the show that was unusual and clever. It was also very good.

Not for the first time this year I found myself mesmerised by people slowly sliding down to the accompaniment of minimalist music.

The show consisted of a series of episodes alternating between the pieces of apparatus, with varying numbers of performers and with different music. This frequent change kept my engagement fresh though, to be perfectly honest, most of these scenes I could have watched for much longer before any thought of boredom, or even satisfaction, crept in.

I am still not entirely certain what Not Until We Are Lost is but I am absolutely certain that I loved every minute of it. Here's hoping that the Rose also liked it and we get more shows like this, assuming there is anything else like it anywhere.

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