Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews


Joanna Young , Riverfront, Newport , March-03-14
Recall by Joanna Young

I could not helping feeling that if I had seen a previous manifestation of this intricate work by choreographer Joanna Young my enjoyment, appreciation and understanding would have been enhanced.

However, all performances have to stand on their own feet and on this basis Recall works as an extremely detailed dance-theatre work with some imaginative and beautiful moments of movement.

In this reworking of PenGwyn, the four performers, two male and two female, are already in line, like penguins, in a subdued light and each move around the space, striking shapes and poses, in their habitat.

We do not have penguin masks or anything else strictly representative but there is no mistaking the inspiration for the distinctive stylised choreography. Rather the women wear simply black shift dresses and the men in plain black suits.

A stack of different sized boxes stands to their right and later in the work these are carefully placed around the performance space and used as mini stages for our strange animal-dancers to move through a gamut of shapes, movements and gestures.

Subtly lit by Gerald Tyler, our performers, Makiko Aoyama, Jacob Ingram-Dodd, Innpang Ooi and Louise Tanoto, contrast uniformity with individuality and interaction. While much of the movement evokes those unusual creatures, from the characteristic head movements and gaping mouths, stark, short jerks and twitches in a bleak landscape, other vocabulary is less clear to find a narrative, such as the seemingly endless jumping up and down by Aoyama. Her repetitive act is broken by being lifted by another dance and moved to another space and eventually brought to a temporary stillness.

Set to an equally edgy choice of music from electronic to what frankly sounds like a needle stuck in a record, continuously repeating the same scratchy few seconds, to periods of utter silence. That silence is broken by the sounds of the breathing of the dancer jumping on the spot.

The work forms a cycle as the dancers move the boxes into a stack again and resume their line-up, again side-lit, before one more set of steps and poses, bringing the experience to a close.

For Young this may be a revisiting a work and exploring memory and reinvention but for a newcomer it is a layered, intriguing work that needs to be appreciated aesthetically without too much analysis to avoid brain chill.

Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, Friday, February 28 and Theatr Harlech, Saturday, March 1.

Reviewed by: Mike Smith

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