Pros: An unusual and original movement-based performance.
Cons: Lots of technical difficulties and not much seemed to happen. The immersive element wasn’t really exploited, so I didn’t feel part of the action.
When we arrived at the Blue Elephant, we were impressed with this little venue. It is intimate and has a nice community vibe. We were led up to the bar area where we were told to prepare ourselves for the fact that we were going to be led into a darkened room at the beginning and to leave behind bags etc… The scene was set that the performance would explore the American Indian worship of the rising sun.
Eventually the audience were all led down together and were taken into a completely dark space with the sound of a heartbeat and heavy frightened breathing. All very Blair Witch. It was quite unnerving. So far so good. Then the performers started to leap around us and flop on the floor in the darkness. This was a bit of an unnerving sensation initially. However, this carried on for quite some time, probably 5 minutes, which was a long time to stand in the darkness without much happening…. An announcement then came over the tannoy that there had been technical difficulties and we were asked to make our way back to the bar.
Unexplained technical difficulties resolved, we were led back down to start over again 10 minutes later. This time after a brief period of darkness a video of three shadowy figures sitting in a park watching the sun rise was being projected onto the wall. Throughout the performance, the three performers were jumping around us in a somewhat random fashion until they all occasionally came together to do a sort of All Blacks “haka” movement. A bit bamboozled, but bearing with it, we thought that it would become clear as the piece went on what it was all about, but it didn’t really seem to.
As the video got a bit brighter we saw that the three figures sitting on the grass watching the sunrise were the three performers, but this went on for a long time without much happening. And then technical difficulties struck again: we were all plunged back into darkness! A rogue lens cap apparently had fallen over the projector. The stage managed hurried in with a big stick and began furiously poking at it and eventually managed to fix it.
Whilst the video was very nicely shot but didn’t really tell much of a story, so that didn’t help us to grasp what was going on. As the sun came fully up, the video eventually changed tempo and we saw the performers running through a park waving their arms towards the sun and dancing around, clearly worshipping the sun. I thought it would have been really good to see some of the American Indians performing their rituals cut into the video to give some context and offer some explanation. The performance ended rather abruptly and none of the audience realised that it was over for a few moments because there hadn’t been a lot of narrative to follow.
On a positive note this was a completely original piece that the choreographer and film maker Rachel Johnson had entirely created herself. Also to be fair to her the tension that had built at the beginning was diminished by the unfortunate technical difficulties they suffered. With a few tweaks and a bit more prep from the stage manager I think this could have been a more engaging piece.
Created by: Rachel Johnson
Company: Experiential Dance
Booking information: The show has ended its run.