Theatre in Wales

Plays and dance productions in Wales since 1982...

 
aD by Jim Ennis & Jessica Cohen
First presented in 2001 by Earthfall
cast size:4
 

   There are 3 reviews of Earthfall's aD in our database:
aD by Jim Ennis & Jessica Cohen
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venue
Chapter Arts Centre, cardiff
March-02-01
As most people are aware, Earthfall are one of Wales' leading contemporary dance companies. Judging by their past history, they can rarely put a foot wrong, as is the case for their most recent production, 'AD'. A high energy, meaningful piece of complexly choreographed (by the individual cast members) dance is their medium for exploring individual relationships with their fathers. Following in a trend that seems to be omnipresent in the contemporary Welsh theatre scene, they are also exploring different mediums for the delivery of their content. A projection screen dominating the floor space, an outstanding musical contribution to the performance and the episodic nature of the three separate stories is what makes this piece distinctly postmodern.

Directed by Jim Ennis, AD is the first part in an ongoing project by Earthfall that involves studying relationships within the family. To help them to achieve this task they use cinematic imagery of Welsh landscape, live music and pop iconography that contributed a multitude of dimensions to the piece. The personal accounts by cast members projected onto the screen immediately captured the attention of the audience. This captivation continued through the performance despite the absence of an interval and extremely uncomfortable seats (the sacrifices we make in the name of art!).

The set and lighting were simplistic yet effective as the eyes of the audience were fixed on the performers' complicated routines and inventive ways of expressing memory, emotionality and fantasy. All of the technical equipment was visible to the audience. This made Chris Vines' musical contribution such an exceptional live performance (taking into consideration that he composed all of the music too). It also seemed to signify that the cast were exposing themselves. They demonstrated particular events relating to their childhood memories and shared things with the audience that were extremely personal; nothing was hidden from us in this performance, which is what I believe made this piece such a success.
reviewer:
Victoria Cooper
aD by Jim Ennis & Jessica Cohen
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venue
Chapter Arts Centre
March-01-01
A father and son spend a day out fishing. They yearn to communicate with one another but hold bacl, each quietly aware of the other’s presence. The father puts out a hand to touch his son, but draws it back after a moment’s reflection. The boy continues to stare across the water, unaware of his father’s attempts to achieve some sort of connection.

So begins the latest production from the internationally renowned physical dance company Earthfall. This fragmented memories of three characters provide the interweaving narratives of this production which mixes film, dance and song to prodive an interrogation of the best and worst aspects of father-son relationships.

This intimate, lyrical exploration of male relations touches on many issues, not least that of masculinity itself. The performance suggests that sons learn howt o define themselves through their fathers, be it in opposition to them, or in trying to ape them.

As each piece is performed a complex picture emerges of the love, hate, jealousy and competitiveness endemic to many familiar relations, but there is plenty of humour in the show, particularly in the scenes concerned with inter-sibling rivalry and favouritism. The dance is quirky and vivid, the grotesque and stylish flowing into one another in unexpected combinations while the bleak cinematic images which appear on a screen at the back of the stage are a great way of hinting at the inner landscapes – of loneliness, lack and longing – of the three central characters.

This show is full of refreshing surprises, and the inter-play of dance, theatre, song and film makes for a sensual and rewarding experience, well worth the entrance fee.
reviewer:
Julie Yates (The Big Issue)
aD by Jim Ennis & Jessica Cohen
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venue
Chapter Arts Centre
March-01-01
It always amazes me how much production companies manage to put on such profound productions in such a small space with the most minimalist of settings. A table, a lone keyboard, a video screen and a window frame makes up the setting for aD. This production deals with the fragmented memories of father and son and is portrayed through three characters accompanied by a musician.

aD begins with two characters – their identities not made clear – sitting on a table in from of the video screen, mimicking each others movements. The grace and fluidity of the two becomes immediately apparent as they launch into a full scale tumbling routine. The lone musician begins by playing haunting chords on the synthesiser whist the screen projects an image of the son talking about his father. The video screen helps to provide an insightful glance into their inner thoughts and feelings. It was through the screen that we, the audience, are able to experience the character’s feelings and most familiarise ourselves with them as people. The only time we hear them talk is through the screen. aD seems to play with the idea of distance and proximity between family members and also cleverly works humour into the script.

Gerald Tyler, who at times assumes the role of the father or narrator, proves a success. He has the opportunity to add many humorous comments and to show off his vocal talents, which unfortunately leave much to be desired.

The high point of the production is the dancing and hypnotic gaze of dancer Terry Michael. The characters are amazingly light on their feet and the choreography fits perfectly with the family situations they are trying to emphasise. The characters are often inter-linked through their movements. During one particular scene, aD proves very successful at depicting that ever-familiar situation of sibling rivalry where the younger one is to blame. Earthfall also manages to weave different genres into the production. At one point the three characters go to a ‘club’ and they all strut their funky stuff complete with their psychedelic shirts. This signifies their close link to their father as he always had so much energy. This ends with the three dancing on the table just in t heir trousers which, needless to say, proves quote easy on the eye. As well as dealing with the light-hearted issues, the company also look at more serious issues, such as child abuse, alcoholism and the death of a parent. Perhaps one of the most intense scenes is when the video screen shows Daelik one of the characters running away from his life. This situation is intensified further through the melancholy sound of the harmonica. In my eyes this shows the distance between father and son and how far they have grown apart.

It would be unfair to review the piece and not to give mention to Chris Vine, the musician who solely accompanied and wrote the music for the piece, armed only with a synthesiser, guitar and mixing desk. He manages to work in a great array of styles ranging from disco, rock, drum ‘n bass and, how can I forget, the final piece played on the Spanish guitar.

Earthfall managed to mix a vast array of emotions such as tenderness, violence and humour in order to produce a very unique and effective production.
reviewer:
ANGELA SINGH - Gair Rhydd (Student Newspaper, University College Cardiff.)

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