DANCE DRAMA PLAY WITHOUT WORDS Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue
2-Sat 27 Mar
Actions speak louder than words, so the saying goes. And if those actions are set to a sexy jazz score, so much the better. The latest venture from choreographer and director Matthew Bourne does exactly what it says on the tin - it’s a play, without words. Inspired by 19605 Brit flick, The Servant, Play Without Words won Bourne the 2003 Olivier Award for Best Entertainment.
Featuring a relatively small cast of 12 dancers, the show follows Anthony, an upper class gent who buys a swish new pad in Chelsea, staffed by manservant Prentice and sultry maid Sheila. Sexually charged and dripping in atmosphere, the show perfectly captures early 19605 repression.
in their way of thinking,’ explains Bourne. ‘There was a certain amount of change going on, but some things were still taboo and people were still uncomfortable with inter-class relationships.‘ Which is why sparks fly when
Prentice’s rough and ready pal, Speight gets jiggy with Anthony’s
AMERICAN CLASSIC OAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Thu 18-Sat 20 March
It isn't so very long since Scotland saw in the shape of the Byre Theatre of St Andrews' fine production - its own rendering of Tennessee Williams much admired drama Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. Now the theatre Royal of Bury St Edmunds is making a brief Caledonian Visit as part of its extenswe low of the play that was popularised by the famous film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.
Set in the MissisSippi mansion of the declining “Big Daddy' Pollitt. the play is a tale of denial. avarice and social hypocnsy. As any mention of the patriarch's degenerating health is carefully avoided. his offspring and their partners. vie for the crucial attention that would secure them the leading stake in the old man‘s will. As so often With Williams. the sense of the interminable decay of the self-appointed white aristocracy of the American south is so tangible that one can almost touch it. It is as if Chekhov had been born in the Deep South.
The play bursts With painfully suppressed desires. secrets and fears. It is reminiscent not only of the Russian writer. but also of Shakespeare's tragedies. It should be given strong expression by this well regarded English company.
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fiancee, Glenda. And to add to the rampant infidelity, all the major ‘People were still stuck in the 50s characters are performed in triplicate, each dancer giving their role an individual nuance.
With such potential confusion, did Anthonys, Glendas, Prentices, Bourne worry about information overload? ‘I took pains to make sure that when something very important was happening, it was Anthony dabbles below stairs, while the only thing to watch,’ he says. ‘When it looks like there’s more going on than you can take in, it’s
actually not as important as the bits you need to see.’ Unlike Bourne’s previous shows, Play Without Words ends without resolution, leaving us to decide how the three
Sheilas and Speights end up. ‘I always like that about dance,’ says Bourne. ‘You get different interpretations, which means the audience is really thinking and creating their own story.’
CON l EMPORAHY DANCE HENRI OGUIKE DANCE COMPANY coco Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 20 Mar
Henri Oguike's dances strike iust the right balance between art and entertainment. Small of scale but big in ambition. his company works miracles of quality despite often meagre resources. Oguike is the most overtly musical of the current crop of gifted young British clioreographers.
Consider l'ront line. a sextet set to a live rendition of ShostakoVich's urgent, brooding ninth Quartet in E Hat. this ia//y. brute dance has a spring in its step and a sting in the tail. lhe cast stamp the floor or allow limbs to lick the air With a primitive. assaultive grace.
Oguike's take on Purcell's Dido é; Aeneas is a chamber drama. its grandeur undercut by a welcome streak of bandy legged randiness. Sarah Storer. a platinum blonde capable of assuming near Ama/onian dimensions. embodies both the Queen of Carthage and the hate filled Sorceress who sabotages her happiness. Strapping Nuno Silva is perfectly cast as Aeneas. while compact Nuno Campos and shimmyiiig Charlotte Latock make their marks.
Oguike. a founding member of Richard Alston's troupe. dances the solo ‘FPS' (Frames Per Second'). Ranging round the stage With a pensive. feral elegance. he's like some beautiful Wild animal unaware of being observed.
Finally there's 'Finale'. a selfexplanatory crowd pleaser cued to French composer Rene Aubry's iaunty. latin tinged rhythms. l'he xesty dancers skip. slink and kick up their heels Without a trace of cheesiness. Such exhilarating, organic seXiness could heat up the coldest night.
NEW WORK THIS WAY UP
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 27 Mar. See listings for details.
It's a sad fact that the more experimental and imaginative shows are often performed by yeting theatre companies that don't have the budget or backing to do themselves ltlSllCO. But thankfully. a UK tour co ordinated by Battersea Arts Centre and featuring new work. attempts to change all that.
'It proVides that bridge for smaller companies to find a Wider audience.‘ says the Tron's artistic director Neil Murray about the This Way Up festival. “It's great because they are
companies that don't have an infrastructure. so it gives them the support and the know how to put it all together. '
The festival includes Sharp Wire's Ada/n 's Apple. a physical piece fusing music and film and lrio Con Brio's In the Beginning. a comedy featuring three Italian brotliers' chaotic story of life and love. Directed by Perrier award Winner Paul King. the one man show lam thicker than water. performed by Simon Farnaby. looks set to have a bitter sweet edge With Farnaby's true and apparently hilarious account of his gambling family, Something for the kids comes in the form of Blind Summit lheatie's Space/nan. an unearthly romp that promises to challenge the wee ones' perceptions. Eclectic and varied. it seems that what links the productions are their indiVidual eccentricities. 'lhey're all small scale. quirky pieces of work," says Murray. Something we should see more of? lhere's only one way to find out. (Meg Watson)