Gilmore Productions – One Up One Down
Macphail Centre, Ullapool, 19 March 2010
GILMORE Productions have the makings of an interesting show in One Up One Down, but it is hard to escape from the feeling that what they are currently presenting to audiences is a work in progress. A brain-storming of ideas has evolved into an hour-long piece which lacks any narrative arc or progression of a theme.
Broadly speaking, it is about the destructive, restrictive effects of consumerism. However, we are not led into any kind of subtle understanding of what we may have lost by signing up to an ethos of constant shopping. After a rather gratuitous prologue by a man in a pink suit, the piece opens with frenetic angular robotic depictions of women who are slavishly devoted to following fashion trends.
Even a change in running order would help to create a more meaningful experience. The final two segments are appealingly playful and serene, so they have the potential to draw an audience into an empathic identification with the characters. As things stand the dancers are proficient and sometimes imaginative in their characterisations but a lack of coherent direction reduces their efforts to caricature without substance.
The Ullapool audience responded to the slap stick presentation with appreciative laughter, but it is doubtful as to whether anyone was actually inspired to delve beneath the surface and contemplate any serious issues.
Then there is an added problem with regards to the company’s efforts to deliver poetic commentary. This unnecessary endeavour dilutes the power of dance to express that which cannot be expressed by any other medium.
The cast does not appear to be vocally trained, nor does the material they try to voice merit effort. Bland rhyming couplets become ever more banal through repetition, proving that you cannot render bad poetry profound just by hammering it home over and over again.
A single conceit – in this case that consumerism is a false god – fails to bring us to a new understanding. Perhaps what is lacking here is the confidence and ambition to make a real impact, which is sad. A little revision could easily elevate One Up One Down from the realms of fluffy one dimension.
© Jenny MacBain, 2010