Curious Seed – P U S H

1 Mar 2012 in Dance & Drama, Highland, Showcase

One Touch Theatre, Eden Court, Inverness, 28 February 2012

AS THE  audience file into their seats, members of Curious Seed relax around the stage in silence, while a young girl (Tallulah Molleson) draws on a wall.

IT’S A lazy, sunny afternoon sort of image and yet there’s already a hint of unease in the semi-ruined structure on the side of the stage. Artful projections and lighting transform the wall from its initial sunny, Mediterranean-holiday whiteness into the sort of torn, broken or bombed remnant we’ve seen on countless newsreels from around the world. Afghanistan, the Balkans, Berlin and all the way through the rest of the tragic alphabet.

Curious Seed - P U S H (photo Maria Falconer)

Curious Seed - P U S H (photo Maria Falconer)

A screen shows images captioned with questions – “Are you ready? Are you comfortable? What are you scared of? How did you love?”- and spoken, very personal answers randomly pepper the work. It’s up to us, the audience, to work out which answer goes with which question (a task which might have been slightly easier if the screen hadn’t been partially obscured for many).

P U S H is Christine Devaney’s response to the images of war, struggle and dislocation that we see nightly on the news. As in Jasmin Vardimon’s coruscating 7734, piles of clothes are piled, layered, thrown and transformed into metaphors of war, waste, cruelty and ruin. The loosely interwoven choreography, the repeated themes, the often stunning tableaux are handled with great dexterity in Devaney’s choreography. Bodies leap, climb, slide, pile, twine and cling together as the projections subtly evoke, again and again, war and dislocation. A man wanders along a beach trailing a bunch of brightly coloured balloons in an image that Fellini would have recognised. “What would you miss?”

Rarely has the simple act of getting dressed seemed more sinister than when Devaney and Andrew Gardiner don their suits. Like Vardimon, Devaney is asking ‘where does inhumanity come from?’, but in a more typically gentle way. Luckily she is well served by Molleson’s calm, sure performance which, while central, only steals the show once (with a hula hoop), and the range and stamina of dancers Skye Reynolds, Tony Mills, and Andrew Gardiner.

As if that wasn’t enough, we can also revel in Judith Williams’ motherly persona and glorious singing voice and Robin Mason’s wonderful blend of blind magician and mad scientist who happens to play live cello. There is so much in this work to treasure and chew over thoughtfully afterwards. The end, involving audience participation, is almost overwhelming.

If there was any fault with the show it was that, somehow, at Eden Court it overran the programme’s declared 70 minutes by a good quarter of an hour.

© Jennie Macfie, 2012