Plenty of politics in tonight's show, from disfunctional democracy to conspiracy theories. In Speak Up, Anecdotal Evidence have gone down the DV8 route to verbatim theatre, canvassing the views of the disenfranchised on hopes and fears and being heard. Duo William Aitchison and Lucy Evans deliver the collage of voices in neutral tones while their bodies jig about, the normality of their dancing reflecting the normality of their subjects – while someone's bopping at the disco, they seem to be saying, this is what's going on in his head. The material is interesting and the delivery slick but it's not unfair to ask, why dance it? Why this move with this text? What extra layer does that bring? It's not always obvious.
Only personal politics in Patricia Zafra's duet Under the Skin. Penned into hoop skirts that stand like sculptures, Zafra and Lucio Chocarro are restricted to a study in upper body movement, switching from sharp swipes of limbs to long, unctuous waves, arms stretching almost out of their sockets. Broken free from their skirts they move into lithe contact-work, laced with tension and rubato. A promising piece, full of strength and femininity.
There's large-scale thinking from The Company in Zion. A ten-strong cast and imaginative set (four ever-moving wooden boxes, think a mini version of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Sutra) are all handled confidently by director Lee Griffiths. Inspired by street preachers, conspiracy and competing worldviews, the piece opens with tutting hands shaping and passing an invisible element – the slippery truth, perhaps. We get confrontational proselytising fuelled by frantic nervous energy and fierce faces, and muscular accents matching the thump of the bass as hip hop moves meet a more contemporary sensibility (the male dancers are stronger than the girls, sadly). There's plenty of drive and style here; definitely a talent worth nurturing.
Speak Up choreographed and performed by William Aitcheson and Lucy Evans uses a question and answer format to explore issues of voice and agency. In a tender duet, Evans repeatedly catches Aitchison asking "who listens to you?" This physical act has a poignancy; by breaking his fall Evans gives Aitchison's responses the dignity and respect they deserve. Questions and answers start to come thick and fast and the movement builds to a frenzy. Everything stops. Evans asks "what gives you hope?" In this stillness, fragile hopes are formed and an alternative reality starts to take shape. The ideas in Speak Up are fascinating and worthy, but its binary format is not enough to sustain the piece and it feels underdeveloped. Whilst catching something of the political zeitgeist, it misses the mark in its current incarnation.
Zion tackles the underbelly of power and its attendant vices: manipulation and corruption. Jabbing, angry gestures tell a story without words. Pent up frustration judders through the dancers' torsos and explodes into tightly choreographed ensembles, eliciting whoops of delight from the audience. The staging was excellent. The dancers worked skilfully with four huge boxes, dancing on, in and around them. This is an absorbing work, and artistic director Lee Griffiths is on the edge of prising something genuinely fresh from his hip hop, contemporary fusion. There are some strong performances, notably from the male dancers. From the outside looking in, hip hop is a man's world. The lack of meaty choreography for the female dancers is hard to ignore and is an own goal for Griffiths in an otherwise great piece.
Lucia Chocarro and Patricia Zafra perform in Underneath the Skin. Isolated in different corners of the space, they seek each other out forming an intimate but exclusive bond. The movement quality is liquid and effortless, but I struggle to engage with the piece beyond a superficial level. It is the music by Ludovico Einaudi gives the piece its emotional depth. Ultimately, it is the score that resonates with me more than choreography. Chocarro and Zafra are well-matched as performers; dancing with commitment and competence. But they seem to disappear into the world they have created leaving the audience at arms length.