Review: Factoria Mascaro in The Garden of Wonders at Trafalgar Square

Performance: 21-24 August 2008
- Friday 22 August 2008

A new wonder illuminated Trafalgar square as Factoria Mascaro offered their creation for the Bank holiday weekend.

The tame description given by the organisers of the Trafalgar Square Festival did not fully encompass performance. With costumes hinting to the Soho scene, the dancers twirled in PVC hot pants and bras, taking on characteristics of living statues, garden fairies and much to my horror dogs on chain leashes.

The work by the Spanish Dance Theatre company attempted to capture the wonders of London’s public spaces, whilst exploring relationships developed by eye contact and touch. If viewed as a satire of contemporary dance fusion, this company could be award winning but their kitsch approach was at times diluted by the over zealous maladroit performance by the choreographer/co director.

The makeshift pond, which staged the majority of the performance, was used as a boating lake, paddling pool and splash source by the dancers as they worked to varied music from Henry Purcell to Euro pop. Accompanied at times by video clips of the choreographer in London parks, the work was loosely woven into a tour around London, complete with models of the Gherkin, St Pauls, Tower Bridge and Big Ben worn as hats.

The movement vocabulary was mainly contemporary using contractions, parallel turns and the floor in a stereotypical way. The introduction of traditional Catalonian dance punctuated the work with some interesting rhythms, yet the main use of this style was distracted from due to the scantily clad performers adorned in fairy wings blowing party kazoos.

The company combined audience participate with metatheatre, allowing the dancers to break into the audience, concealing them under a vast blue sheet. Due to the live filming of the piece this made audience members star on the big screen delighting many of the children present.

In drawing to a close, Garden of Wonders returned to more classical ideas of London parks, reflected in both costume and dance style coupled with Factoria Mascaro’s own quirky twist. The dancers donned Elizabethan farthingale style skirts and corsets and formed linked arm lines reminiscent of a classical corpse de ballet section.

The atmosphere as Eros shot his imaginary arrow, to end the performance, was one of amusement, but audience members appeared to take this unusual work with a pinch of salt and in a light hearted manor. Perhaps a tourist’s view of London, Garden of Wonders gave a slightly warped view of the parks and public spaces found in the Capital.

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