become almost a Fringe cliché to
praise Derevo, the Russian “anti-clowns”, to the skies.
But once again, with the beautifully conceived Islands In The Stream,
these extraordinary performers take wordless physical theatre to
previously unimagined heights.
The piece, a dream-like flux of images that drift tantalisingly
in and out of view and imprint on the mind for days, has nothing
to do with the Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers song of the same name,
but everything to do with the sea, and all who sail on her.
Perky sailors with technicolor smiles bob in on invisible waves;
girls dressed as buoys float on the surf; horrible humpback creatures
crawl along the ocean floor; an omnipresent figure in a greatcoat
(man or God: you decide) conducts the elements, blowing violent
storms from a trombone.
With this shimmering, near-cinematic vision, Derevo give us a
sea that is beautiful and cruel all at once: like a picture postcard
of Day-Glo beach scenes with a dark, imposing message scrawled
on the back. Uniformly shorn of hair and with rock-hard bodies
that, like the late Bruce Lee, should make them too fit to live,
Derevo are like some order of devoted performance monks. As ever,
we are not worthy.
From the vast sweep of the sea, Loft narrows the focus to one
man’s battle with himself – and his own video image.
This is a favourite ploy for Toni Mira of Nats Nus Dansa, a company
which employs the technology with a good deal more finesse than
most who take the multi-media route.
In this intense solo, the deeply charismatic Mira is confined
to a rectangular-shaped pool of light with just a chair and table,
a packet of biscuits he can’t open and his video doppelgänger
for company. Prowling the limits of his space, he seems unable
to slip out of the introspection that solo living can bring.
At times, uncomfortable as it is, we are right there with him
in his lonely loft. His mature, understated dance style is a joy;
his acting talent (he is a regular on Catalan television) confirmed
as he addresses his audience on subjects as banal as replacing
batteries in a CD player.
At other junctures he loses us. Some of this may be due to first-
night technical glitches. But Loft never quite electrifies the
way the company’s triumphant Ful did last year.
Also at the dancier end of Aurora Nova’s multi-hued spectrum,
is Czech/Italian company Déjà Donné’s There Where We Were.
Performed by a sweat-drenched trio, whose drama is heightened
with the highly original use of sharply punctuated martial arts-style
breathing and t’ai chi arms, this is one of those shows
that creeps up by stealth, then punches you slap-bang in the gut.
Based round a love triangle – or is it a friendship wrecked
by a love affair? – this tightly-wrought, muscular piece,
with its undercurrent of violence, is no easy option. But as a
study of the way obsessive love can wring the very life from us,
this is astonishing, heart-stopping stuff.
If the very thought has you reaching for the razor blades, let
me urge you instead towards Ricardo Garcia Y La Familia Flamenco
with their self-explanatory show titled Flamenco Flamenco!
This show is listed in the Fringe programme’s music section.
But for those who love the strut and flounce of flamenco, as well
as the blistering guitar and drums provided here by the jovial
Garcia brothers, this is some of the most uplifting, joyous dance
you’ll see at the Fringe.
17 August 2003