Maggie Foyer sees Motionhouse in Broken at the Peacock Theatre, London
April 6, 2016
Motionhouse, since its inception in 1988, has forged a distinctive path: embracing technology as a partner to their distinctive, acrobatic style of dance while also engaging with today’s big issues. They have also attracted an enthusiastic fan base including, a healthy number of younger members.
Artistic Director, Kevin Finnan, has built Broken around themes of dust and light spanning the gap from the cosmic dust that shapes our world, to a final urban disaster scenario. The ‘big bang’ provided a marvellous opportunity for digital imagery and Logela Multimedia, the Spanish team responsible, take advantage with full-on visual explosions. More subtle, but no less effective were the sea of molten lava and rock falls that create a canvas for imaginative choreography.
The athletic dancers, three men and three women, have for their playground a minimal set with strategically placed supports and poles allowing them to dive, swing and climb with breath-taking skill and daring. Like flying objects, they disappear magically through the slashed, elastic backdrop.
A lone woman nurturing a fire provided one of the most effective sections. The play of shadows on the cave walls, shadows that take on human form, are teasing, enticing and threatening by turn. Their movement is in a different register, suggesting a different mood, more fluid and less aggressive but the thrills are still there as a shadow on stilts takes her to new heights in terrifying lifts and spins.
The sequences are not directly linked. In keeping with the title, Broken, and the techy world of sound bites, the scenes vault erratically through time and space. The sudden link to the modern world is neatly done. A dancer falls from the sky to lands on a mattress as lights come up revealing a couple in bed in a modern apartment.
The relationship is rudely interrupted as the building collapses – not a bad thing as the show is definitely stronger on action than feelings. With the cliff-hanging appeal of a disaster movie, the slow motion earthquake makes a stunning climax. Floors shift, walls collapse and the dancers become the superheroes of the moment to the delight of the audience.
Motionhouse are an immensely appealing company, daring, fun and eager to draw the audience into their world to share the adventure. They have found a very successful niche market in multi-media performance both physical and widely accessible.
This summer, Motionhouse will be touring their new outdoor work, Block. Visit www.motionhouse.co.uk for details.