Review: Edge at The Performing Arts Centre, Surrey

Performance: 27 June 2011
Reviewed by Katie Fish - Wednesday 29 June 2011

Edge 'Braid' Chor: Martin Forsberg. Photo: Hugo Glendinning

This year’s Edge tour was an ambitious run with four generous commissions by leading international choreographers including two of this year’s Place Prize finalists, Ben Duke and Eva Recacha.

First up was P&J by Recacha – a choreographer who inventively combines text and movement to create an idiosyncratic dialogue that moves beyond the rational realm. In this work she transforms Edge into a company of wild and eccentric marionettes cut loose from their strings and enjoying their secretive liberty. At times two characters – Punch and Judy no less – clamp together like sumo wrestlers spurred on by the others’ rowdy cheers. The bold and brassy Balkanic rhythms of Mahala Rai Banda Vs. Shantel and Slonovski Bal perfectly imbue the piece with the air of a Romanian jamboree and the furious energy of the dancing pours out into the auditorium.

On a slightly tamer level follows Jeremy James‘ playfully entitled My Big Pants which has been brilliantly remounted by Sonja Peedo from the original cast. The four dancers move with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it speed and yet each action is performed with intricacy and precision, coiling and pulsing with elastic dynamic. It is exhilaratingly relentless like being in the middle of a crowded club with the rebounding charge of the music and proximity of other bodies creating a sense of euphoria. Tiago Gambogi seemed to relish in the male part moving with dexterity and command. The gesture is intoned with vibrancy and carries a subtle emotional current that washes over you and draws you in.

With 36, Spanish choreographer Jorge Crecis has masterminded a live problem solving exercise for the company with unpredictable rules and shifting roles. Exciting to watch and undeniably challenging to perform the dancers literally had the – largely school aged – audience on the edge of their seats. This is Sudoku brought to life but with no margin for error and with a pinball like focus. Described in the programme notes as a dance-sport, the piece strikes a balance between the two – the deftness of the dancer and the winning drive of the athlete. Dodging and shooting have never been so well choreographed.

In contrast, the male characters in Duke‘s Up The Down Escalator have the luxury – or not – of being able to explore the what-if alternatives that present themselves when coming face-to-face with the girl of their dreams. Inarticulate and indecisive, Gambogi and John Kendall can only look in awe as Daniele Varallo seamlessly gets it right. At times perhaps a little too protracted, the narrative nevertheless has a thread we can all relate to – who hasn’t, literally speaking of course, walked up the down escalator? – until it untangles at the end with liberating irrelevance and spontaneity.

Martin Forsberg is an artist who likes to create ongoing, multilayered encounters that enter a new phase with each staging. In Braid what you see on one viewing is what you don’t see on the next, and vice-versa. With a swinging light that reveals intermittent flashes of action what happens in the shadows is as important as what happens in the foreground. Intriguing, busy and intelligent, the work contains an essence of human fragility which is accentuated by the mix of costumes, each particular to its’ bearer; a fancy dress cat suit, a suit worn with boxers, a dress for a muscular male, a swamping t-shirt for a petite female. This is a collective of individuals sharing a common experience but making it their own.

You can still catch Edge ‘at home’ in The Place Theatre from Thursday 30 June to Saturday 2 July at 8 pm.
Box office: 020 7121 1100
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