Review: Stan Won't Dance in Revelations at Laban 13 Oct

Performance: coming to QEH end of Nov
Reviewed by Clare Thurman - Monday 23 October 2006

Revelations was geared up to be an edgy piece of modern theatre incorporating music, speech and movement which tackled current issues, debates and world crises. Directed by Liam Steel and Robert Tannion with text by Nigel Charnock from the unforgettable DV8, the expectations were high and it went unsaid that this work would have an element of the ‘shock factor’. However, a work which aims to shock constantly with little relief quickly becomes dull and loses impact.

The most unforgettable thing about the work was the impressive set by Michael Pavelka, consisting of a steel pod in which the worlds of heaven, hell and earth sat one on top of the other. The aerial moves that were generated through using the bars to swing from and the entrances and exits created by trapdoors and secret passage ways made for interesting viewing. However, it became clear that the time spent rehearsing on the set itself was not enough as sequences of contact and acrobatic tricks were often stilted and awkward.

On earth a couple’s relationship is examined, pulled to pieces and manipulated by the Devil (Steel) and his four leather clad sidekicks. In an attempt to relate to everyday situations, the relationship clichés were acted out but the familiarity was soon lost with repetition and the acting began to lack sincerity. Interrupting the flow of speech, Steel’s four minions slithered from kitchen cabinets and dangled from steel bars provocatively. Initially, clever speech patterns, interchanging voices and quick-fire thoughts were interesting, but after the first twenty minutes became tired and sounded forced.

The couple’s rocky ride was trivialized by Steel’s cringe worthy characterisation of a camp compere, interspersing their fights with sickly sweet songs and cabaret dance numbers. Each one lasted too long, losing its appeal and humour.

With so much content but little depth, the emotional attachment was minimal and whilst moments succeeded in evoking a reaction, the overall effect was a feeling of indifference. The length of over 2 hours with no interval was ambitious and audience attentions were wandering, which meant the final few harsh scenes were lost amongst the drawn out monotony.

My thoughts turned to the movement material itself, which was interesting, quirky and intelligently created to work smoothly alongside the script. The simplest gestural sequences had the most impact. Perhaps the work was too ambitious, resulting in a drawn out performance that lost us somewhere along the way.

Tour details: www.revelationstour.co.uk

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