Pros: As I watched the graceful movement of the three performers, all within touching distance, there were moments of pure beauty that left me smiling.
Cons: I‘ve absolutely no idea of the story behind it all and was left wondering what it was all about; only the programme notes gave me any clue as to what they were striving for.
The first task of the night was finding The Bread & Roses Theatre, tucked away as it is a short walk from Clapham North underground station. Thankfully GPS and the map that came with the ticket helped greatly. It’s in a very residential area of Clapham, not where you’d expect to find a theatre of any type. Once found you’ll discover a charming and welcoming pub, even even to dogs – water bowls are available on request.
Whilst waiting downstairs enjoying a drink, director and choreographer Cassiah Joski-Jethi appeared to hand out programmes. This proved very useful as it gave some background to what the performance was about. Although when I say useful, being told it “follows the character of Marie from Georg Buchner’s expressionist play Woyzeck” honestly didn’t mean too much to me. There is, I now realise, a large gap in my knowledge of German expressionist writers.
Once you go upstairs to the theatre you find a simple room with a single row of seats either side, holding maybe 25 people. If I were laying out the room, I’d be tempted to place seats differently. In the current layout, you did at times need to crane forward to see down the other end so maybe curving the rows inwards theatre style would have helped?
The Sun Shining On Her Hands, and again I refer to the programme notes, “explores the themes of gender and identity through the use of movement and contemporary dance”. There was clearly some story going on, it just wasn’t clear to me, excepting that all three performers were representations of the same person, waiting for the previously mentioned Woyzeck to return. Maybe knowing the work it was based on it would help one derive further meaning? But even without that knowledge, taken as a piece of visual performance, it has many reasons to be appreciated, but more importantly, to be enjoyed.
Given that this was the first night, the three performers seemed extremely well rehearsed with no obvious errors. They moved and felt in perfect unison, a credit to both their abilities and the choreography. Switches between acting and dancing seemed natural and effortless, and the dance was striking. With the venue being so small there was an incredible intimacy; at times you really felt you were staring straight into their eyes when they performed right in front of you, and you felt the breeze as they glided past.
It’s difficult to truly describe why I enjoyed The Sun Shining On Her Hands. The best I can do is to steal from a recent promo I’ve seen on TV. In that ad, after watching a horror film, two girls talk. “What did we just watch?” asks one, to which the other replies “I’m not sure but I think I quite liked it.” That is about the best way to sum up tonight. I had absolutely no idea what was going on, but even so, I enjoyed every moment of it and would not hesitate to go to see more of the work of this young and vibrant group.
Writer and Director: Cassiah Joski-Jethi
Production Company: Trip The Light Theatre
Booking Until: 12 December 2015
Box Office: 0333 666 3366; tickets may also be available on door
Booking Link: http://www.breadandrosestheatre.co.uk/the-sun-shining-on-her-hands.html