Review: Liquid Loft & Cie Philippe Saire at The Place

Performance: 6 June 09
Reviewed by Libby Costello - Thursday 11 June 2009

The Turning World season brings John Ashford’s two decade run as Theatre Director at The Place to an end. The international programme featuring companies from Europe originally brought acclaimed arts such as Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Wim Vandekeybus and Rui Horta to the UK for the first time.

Almost twenty years on, and before Ashford moves on to become Director of the European dance network Aerowaves, the festival is to bring seven companies from around Europe to the Place in 2009. On 6 June the companies hailed from Austria and Switzerland to bring a studio performance and a deceivingly traditional performance in the Place Theatre. Liquid Loft (Austria) under the artistic direction of Chris Haring set up dance À la carte in *Running Sushi*. With the running order of the performance decided by the sequence in which twelve pieces of sushi were chosen by the audience, the work hand no linear structure. Each segment, drawing upon Manga traditions, had the dancers appearing like life sized Morphs (- Tony Hart’s Take Hart side kick). The well matched voiceovers and sound, in a unique language, fully embodied the dancers as if the sound came from within them. In keeping with the Japanese style coupled with European Dance tradition there were disturbing moments which rolled into humorous and tender sections. The movement style gave a sense of the dancers being two dimensional, as if lifted from a comic book. The sections of dialogue brought great amusement without needing a context or storyline to nestle in. With the audience seated on floor and the dancers elevated on a long white platform the normal theatre dynamic was altered. The informal and laid back setting was not reflected in the quality of the performance which was slick and precise – a company well worth making note of.

Cie Philippe Saire’s Il faut que je m’absente – ( I really have to go now) did not bring the same magic to the stage as Running Sushi. Based around illusionists and circus performers the tongue in cheek beginning raised a few laughs but the demise into a darker scenario was dismal. The set was the most interesting aspect of the performance with 3 sides of the stage covered in a curtain of dressing room style lights. The lowest point of the performance was the introduction of a dead rabbit. Although comical to begin with the presence of the rabbit for the majority of the second half detracted from the movement.

An odd double bill for Ashford’s farewell.

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