Stand-up and gut passion
Francois Raffinot: ‘the hottest young dance company in France.’ .
Ellie Carr reports back from the start of Glasgow‘s
New Moves dance festival highlights to come.
New Most ()5 began with a pair of clriselled cheekbones and a shock of white-blond hair. A combination of first-night buzz. and Nigel Charnock‘s— reputation as outrageous solo performer. had put over 300 bums on seats to see Hell lr’enl launch New Moves at 'l‘ramway.
Fortunately (Tharnock came tip with the goods. A disco glitter-ball of a show complete with transvestism. tits and ass dance routines. gin-soaked blues numbers. nudity. crudity and those rapid-lire stand-up-comic~style monologues on love. life and loneliness that have become the Charnock trademark. Exactly how he pulls rt all off is hard to say. Who else cotrld druru up an hour of sheer unadulterated. and sometimes side-splitting entertainment from taking us into his dingy old bedsit and showing us what a sad life he's got‘.’ There is something to be said for those rambling. rolling scripts of his and the controlled chaos of his staging is pretty awesome but at the end of the day it's his utterly captivating qualities as a performer that steal the limelight in Hell Bent. That and his ability to send himself right up in a deliciously hiin camp puff of snroke.
The fact that there wasn't a great deal of dancing on this first night of New Moves didn‘t seem to bother anyone. Charnock and his one-man alternative cabaret show was more than enough to be getting on with.
Second off the starters‘ block was Vincente Saez. the young Spaniard who brought Utltll to New Moves in I993. This time he gave us Rap/u. a work of brooding intensity. and dance in its purest form. Erie Sleichirn‘s minimalist jazz score fills the auditorium; long. pale shafts of light beam out from the wings. and two young men. dressed head to toe in beige. move in smooth. swift and measured patterns across the space. Mostly they are remote figures travelling through neutral landscapes. occasionally breaking into duets or solos of hot. sweet tenderness and cruel passion. Saez has the rare ability to wind abstract and expressive into a single style that makes for sophisticated dance. and like a rhythmic echo of its ﬂamenco forefathers. is one with the musical beat.
and looks forward to
Wirh lanonima Imperial nest on the bill. there‘s another clraucc to sample the stuff ofyoung Spanish dance at .\'ew .\loves this year less well established than Sae/. l.anonirna is hotly tipped to be the next best thing emerging from Spanish dance shores. This. its first \isil to Britain. will give Scottish audiences the chance to decide
()ther highlights include Francois Baffinot ‘llre hottest young dance company in l’rance.‘ according to larr \lacls’ay at New .‘\lo\es- the whole ('anadian season. which once again
makes tip a substantial part of the
programme. and the spin-off to that strand. Gut Reactions. The idea behind (111/ Rene/runs is to allow four Scottish l’r'ank .\Ic('onncll. .-\lan (ireig. .-\ndy llow itt and Tristan Borrcr
a safe em ironrnent to dexelop
choreographic ideas without the pressure of having to produce a finished piece. All of this will take
place under the watchful eye of a mentor. I’eter lioneham of the (‘anada Dance Lab.
The Canadians seem to be the world leaders at utilising this concept of ‘playtinre' as a creative tool. and it could be argued that this is one of the reasons why they produce so rntrch good work. The hope is that Scottish
dance has something to gain by their
example. There will be a public
showing of the work created during (in!
Item-Irons btrt Nikki .‘\lilican. director
of New Moves. is quick to stress that it
should be \ iewed strictly as works in
' progress. "The whole idea is to give
I these artists the chance to focus completely on the artistic process.’ she
; says. ‘\\'c don‘t want finished works.
: That's not what (in! React/(ms is
After the showing there will be a chance for the audience. critics and other artists to discuss the ruerits of the project with Peter Boneharn and the four choreographers. Milican feels this is an important part of the festival and
one way in which some of the advances l
made at New Moves can have a lasting rmpression on those w ho shape the Scottish dance scene.
E New Moves xit‘mss liumpe. 'I'I'umw'uy. ; (iltmgmr; until 25 Mai:
l The Tron, Glasgow. Until Sat 11 Mar.
Unlike the current revival of
Trainspotting, which really is a revival — same story, same situations told by different actors - this second run of Raindog’s harrowing trawl through Glasgow’s sex and drugs underworld (the rock ’n’ roll is the techno and ambient soundtrack) is more like
3 another episode in the long-running sordid soap opera of the characters’ lives. The company has devised a new series of humiliating scenarios in which to place the no-hope gutter- dwellers we met first time round.
Ann Myatt’s eccentric bag lady Vinny
is back in an unfortunater reduced
role trying to salvage some normality to wear alongside her pride. Joyce Falconer’s barely-animated Josie has even less dribbling to do this time round and - swizz to end all swizzes —
Robert Carlyle’s neurotic junkie TV
j doesn’t even appear in the flesh,
merely as a cinema screen image in
Jeanette’s memory. However, Barbara Rafferty as said Jeanette, a more ‘mature’ prostitute, is again the cornerstone of the piece, turning in an affecting performance.
The overall aura of this version is not as grim and gritty, and therefore not as convincing as the original. There are the inevitable violent episodes but more pervasive is the blanket of sentimentality over much of the action which doesn’t ring true, as the characters recreate climactic scenes from all-time great movies and dream and reminisce interminably like the underachieving barflies in Eugene O’lleiII’s The lceman Cometh.
Most unconvincing is the final ‘do the right thing’ moral dilemma with the characters caving in one by one to the lowlife Raymie’s scummy get-rich- quick plan. It might make for a tense denouement but it’s all too obvious a piece of plotting to slip in to the
fabric of this desolate work with any l credibility. (Fiona Shepherd)
i Seen at the Traverse Theatre, ' Edinburgh. On tour.
; The spirit of Salman Hushdle’s book, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, has found its theatrical doppelganger in Benchtours’ devised piece of the same name. Intended for adults and children, it possesses an unpretentious sophistication. llot so much Alice or Sinbad as Mr Blobby j with philosophy. It tells the tale of Haroun’s adventure to save the source ‘ of stories and also provides stunning i visual and poetic metaphors about a r writer’s opposition to the cult of political muteness.
It does take time to warm up; the i cast are still sifting a residual l bookishness in the early stages, but
. HAROUN AND THE SEA OF STORIES
once ‘the dream’ is established the story takes off like a flying carpet. Hilarious, tart and camp, the play possesses all the qualities despised by the tyrannical. But fairy lands are fearsome too and Karen Tennant’s set adds tissue and fibre to a hallucination that swung between darkness and light with real force.
This panto for surrealists also has unexpected depths: sympathy towards those who, deprived of free speech, must live through their shadows and then the storytellers’ ultimate weariness with words, words, words.
This wonderful piece brazenly floats like a pink barrage balloon somewhere : between contrary genres. With this ,‘ excellent cast you’ll wait in vain for it
to deflate. (Ronan O’Donnell)
The List 10-23 Mar I995 53