Review: Company Chameleon - Witness Double Bill - Trinity Laban Theatre
Performance reviewed: 16 March 2017
Witness Double Bill by Company Chameleon directs the spotlight on mental health; combining a mix of dance and movement styles, intimate solos, emotive duets and powerful ensembles to share an emotional and insightful view of mental health.
The double bill begins with Words Unspoken, a dynamic short work exploring the untold secrets of the performers on stage, opens the performance. Six dancers flawlessly formed movements in a striking and synchronised style. The effect was hypnotic and provides the perfect opener for this double bill. This work was first created for the Spanish company La Mov and it is performed for the first time in the U.K.
The scene opens to a dimly lit and mist bound stage, creating an atmosphere that is both unnerving and full of apprehension. We see the six dancers forming a line across the stage and we are ready to absorb the secrets as they are told. The piece is short, abrupt, even but with enough opportunity for the dancers to reveal themselves in a poignant and emotionally satisfying way.
The second and main piece Witness, draws upon the choreographer, Kevin Edward Taylor’s own experience with mental health issues (bipolarism), how his illness impacted on him and his family. The piece explores the absolute extremes of this illness, the incredible and manic highs and the antithesis of the desperate lows experienced by the lead dancer, his movements communicating the highs and lows of his illness with depth and clarity. I particularly liked his two alter egos: manic, saviour of the universe, super-powerful and the poles apart: depressed, totally lacking in confidence, self esteem, incapable, burden to his family.
Words Unspoken is a physical representation of stories taken from dancers and choreographers – their secrets, memories and events previously concealed from others. The dancers’ synchronised movements were well executed with plenty of compassion and complicity amongst them. The musical score enhanced the sympathetic choreography with various changes of tempo and moods.
The love of his family, depicted by wife and son, the trauma they are going through then the resignation that the only solution: hospitalisation and treatment; was emotionally depicted in movement and expression.
The dramatic build up, movement, music, and speech enhanced the piece and although the subject matter was extremely upsetting to view, it provoked great sympathy in the audience. I became absorbed from the outset, the idea of the burden of his illness portrayed by another dancer clawing to his back and dancing in unison was most disturbing. His distress was palpable.
Perfectly encapsulating the mania, despair and confusion of having bipolar along with the guilt & powerless feelings experienced by onlookers and loved ones. Each movement spoke 1000 words illustrating the physical and mental entrapment of bipolar; its contrasting states additionally reflected by stark changes in the score, lights and interactions: dark, fearful and vague vs bright clinical and bold. A powerful provocative piece.
Reviewers: Joanna Paschali and Natalie Cameron Ward
Witness: Kevin Edward Turner | Words Unspoken: Kevin Edward Turner and Anthony Missen
Witness – Miguel Marin | Words Unspoken – O Yuki Conjugate and Ryuichi Sakamoto
Kevin Edward Turner, Theo Fapohunda, Helen Andrew, Taylor Benjamin, Margarida Macieira
Kevin Edward Turner & Tanya Walker
“Chameleon is a word we ( Kevin Edward Turner and I) came across 20 years ago when we were still young people and deciding we would one day take over the world with our own dance company! It refers to a lot of things – working with movement, language, sound – anything that best represents an idea and the notion of transformation and adapting to suit our environment. It could be ballet, martial arts, the voice, speaking, singing, a prop…anything that works within the content of the show. It’s our aim to be innovative in generating movement material that specifically communicates an idea.”
Past interview with Anthony Missen of Company Chameleon, to read full interview please click here