Review: Resolution! - taciturn / The Artful Badger / Ivan Blackstock

Performance: 8 February 2013
Reviewed by Lise Smith - Monday 11 February 2013

Ivan Blackstock 'Reverie' Photo: Belinda Lawley

taciturn Worst Case Scenario / The Artful Badger In-Side-Out / Ivan Blackstock Reverie

The 22nd evening in this year’s Resolution! was a welcome night of funny ha-ha, with just a dash of funny peculiar. Three short, small-group pieces, each idiosyncratic in their own way, brought a joyful air to the Place stage.

A booming voiceover, reminiscent of a vintage public information film, heralded the arrival of Liverpool’s taciturn. Worst Case Scenario takes a humorous and highly physical look at a series of possible disasters – an earthquake, a parachute failing to open, a bomb – and presents advice on how to manage and survive these situations with enthusiastic danced demonstrations. Three female dancers search and shelter, fly and flinch in energetic synchrony
taciturn worked with Frauke Requardt in this piece, and the influence shows in both the vigorous physicality of the material and the eccentric air. Despite the apparently heavy subject matter, Worst Case Scenario has a cheerfully uplifting heart, its mission to entertain rather than to educate; although I’m not sure I could now survive any of the scenarios listed I had a great time watching the company try.

In-Side-Out bills itself as a gently interactive performance about animal empathy. The interactive element is very gentle indeed – so gentle as to be undetectable. The animal empathy is clearer; three female dancers with ruffled tailpieces and amazing feathered eyelashes hop and twitch onto the stage, quivering and preening. Two of the birdlike creatures come together and play a lively game of footsie; one stomps off in an avian huff, and the three all end up in a feathery pile centre stage. There’s not a lot of substance to Zoë Cobb’s whimsical choreography; it’s readable and characterfully performed, but slips from the memory like a fleeting chirrup.

Birdgang’s Ivan Blackstock has successfully balanced a commercial dance career performing with the Pet Shop Boys and Cher Lloyd with an emerging profile in dance theatre. Reverie is the story of a sleepless night, opening with a lengthy and rather lovely duet in which Blackstock’s slumbering partner finds a dozen inventive ways to steal the duvet. A haunted wardrobe then springs into life, sending dancing clothes spinning, sliding and top-rocking onto the stage. A spotted skirt becomes a sensual tango partner; an oversized shirt pops and locks.

Reverie combines some simple stage trickery – black clad dancers and quick changes under the duvet – with clever but accessible choreography. Special mention must go to the dancer who performed a whole section standing on his head, legs animating the sleeves of a baggy denim shirt. Blackstock himself is a likeable and charismatic performer, ably embodying sleepy annoyance at his partner and astonished wonderment at the cupboard full of enchanted clothes. A fun, feel-good piece that’s bound to return to the stage soon – keep an eye out for this promising young performer.

Resolution! 2013 continues at The Place until 15 February [not Sundays or Mondays]

Ivan Blackstock takes part in Wild Card at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells 14 & 15 March. Details

Lise Smith is a dance manager and teacher, as well as a regular contributor to & Arts Professional

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