Review: Scottish Dance Theatre in The Life and Times of Girl A / N.Q.R. at The Place

Performance: 11 & 12 March 2010
Reviewed by Katie Fish - Monday 15 March 2010

Scottish Dance Theatre 'The Life and Times of Girl A' Chor: Ben Duke. Photo: Andy Ross

Reviewed: 11 March

in _*The Life and Times of Girl A,* _Girl A is brilliantly portrayed by Solene Weinachter, is an aspiring film director who, with no budget or film crew, is compelled to act out her plot with a 10 strong troupe of dancers, none of whom have acting experience and are more accustomed to using movement rather than words as the tools of their trade.

Three pairs of opaque sliding doors at the back and sides of the stage are the only scenery used to suggest that we are at an airport. As Weinachter narrates the story, dancers are cast as the usual characters we would expect at an airport; one man is running late, another is meeting his lover, one woman is overjoyed when told she is on her way to Hawaii, another is downcast when told she is returning to Dundee.

Occasional close-ups are projected to suggest what we would see through the eye of the camera; naturally the story is shot from the perspective of Girl A. At times Weinachter expresses elation at being reunited with Pierre, her long-distance lover; elsewhere she shows distress when he looks beyond her into the eyes of another. Throughout all she convinces as a character in whom we can believe despite not knowing anything of her history or who she really is.

The dancers serve as a backdrop of extras; they are there to add context and background to Weinachter’s plot. In the party scene, stylised disco moves come complete with pelvic thrusts and finger pointing. Once the group begins to disperse, however, individuals become aware of their vulnerability and shy away from the spotlight. In another section couples dance together without holding or touching their partners as if an unspoken barrier existed between them.

It is only in the closing ensemble that the mysterious Girl A joins in with the group; arms pumping, feet stomping and elbows propelling their turns. And, at once, she becomes yet another face in yet another crowd united only by time and space.

*N. Q. R*., choreographed by Caroline Bowditch and Mark Brew, begins in semi-darkness with shifting white shapes creeping, crawling, standing and falling through the space. Illuminated blocks are used to hide the dancers and obscure their limbs as they hang upon them. Indeed, Bowditch is so well hidden behind one that her hands and feet seem to emerge from nowhere before she peers coyly above it. Another dancer stands over her as she dangles her legs over the edge, but with one deft arm movement, Bowditch has soon cut the other down to size so that she lies at her feet.

Toby Fitzgerald, armed with his measuring tape, sizes up the group announces that whilst is a year away from finding love, another is just 2 yards away from happiness. Cellist and composer Robin Mason plays a tango-esque tune for which the female dancers support their male partners like a crutch and dance with their faces pressed up against the men’s torsos as if to highlight the mismatching of couples.

In a tableau-like scene dancers shift between a range of personas as a different genders, nationalities, marital statuses, sexualities, professions and stereotypes are rolled out. A melange of type-casts grouped according to what, not who, they are.

Brew and Naomi Murray engage in an intimate duet as she spins him around in his wheelchair like a capsule on the arm of a fairground ride. He pulls her on his lap with her feet spinning the chair’s wheels, both seemingly with eyes only each other.

As the dancers sit on blocks at the back of the stage, they examine their limbs and joints, lifting them only to let them to fall. Each one has a different height, shape and make-up, and all are Not Quite Right – but then who is?

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