Bleak and dark: Tara D’Arquian’s Bad Faith

Laban Theatre, London
March 15, 2018

Maggie Foyer

Bad Faith is a bold attempt by young choreographer, Tara D’Arquian, to find theatrical expression for an elusive concept, identity. She creates a bleak vision; a dystopian world, a place of nothing, where brief moments of clarity rapidly dissolve into uncertainty.

The central character, Nora, played by Hannah Ringham, is an actress in crisis, plagued with doubts and persistent memories of former triumphs and failures. These shadows from the past swim in and out of focus as she voices her fears in the company of disembodied voices, buzzing around in a fevered, half-light. The opening, is agonisingly slow, as bodies emerge and begin the painful excavation of memories from the sensitive soft tissue of the past. The two dancers, Laura Doelher and D’Arquian herself, who proves to be a fine performer, embody Nora’s subconscious and are a constant presence. They manifest her doubts and fears, hovering close, sometimes making contact but seldom offering solace.

D’Arquian shows astute understanding of the visual power of shape (the final twisted figures are particularly potent) but shies clear of exploiting the movement potential. I longed for her to express the depth of darkness in movement but too often this was left to the text. Dance was used in brief melancholic moments, as Nora questions, together with The Supremes, Where did our love go? This provides a contrast, as does the ‘extended cast’ who materialise from the audience to become a choral community of women in the final moment, although the latter smacked suspiciously of offering a feel-good moment on which to send the audience home and a cop out for a seriously promising choreographer who did not need a diversion.

D’Arquian has found in lighting designer, Fridthjofur Thorsteinsson, an effective collaborator. His shafts of light smudged by smoke, shift and reshape to catch the moving figures, but often do more to accentuate the darkness than to provide illumination. In Bad Faith, D’Arquian has made a convincing attempt to penetrate the troubles of the soul and although the work has serious shortcomings there is enough potential for a reworking, with greater dance content, to make an important and thought-provoking work.