News & Blogs

9 January 2020
Author: Bruce Marriott & Megan Hamer

Sat 11 Jan: Frankie Thompson and Luke Howarth/ Miguel Altunaga Verdecia/ Trah and Chips

Frankie Thompson and Luke Howarth  Space

Miguel Altunaga  (Re)Home

Trah and Chips  A rabbit climbed a ladder to the moon and danced with a god and a lie is a real thing

A first visit to The Place's Resolution season this year and it proved as charming, diverse and weirdly challenging as ever, if more a theatrical than dance experience. No dance at all in Frankie Thompson and Luke Howarth's Space but I was charmed senseless by what seemed like an evolved toy theatre show that promised a "mesmerising journey through space, scale and perspective." And this we got as the engaging Thompson uses a webcam and magnifying glasses to roam over a table of quaint home-made miniature effigies, the result projected on the back wall of the stage. The distorted action is led by an eclectic range of old songs from Noel Coward to Al Bowly and I was indeed mesmerised and enjoyably blindsided at every twist and turn of the cam. I'll look out for Frankie Thompson again, even if the show was a bit too slow to get going.

Miguel Altunaga's (Re)Home was also a slow start but easily featured the best dancing of the night. It's a two-handed take on the underclass waiting to be rehomed in a world where humanity is breaking down. He is well served by the technical dexterity of Imogen Alvares and James Olivo, particularly in some strong duets which can be painful, gut-thumping, watching as they convulse with a mix of rigid and rubber limbs flailing. But there was a lot of earnest standing and slow walking that rather lost theatrical momentum.

Trah and Chips's A rabbit climbed... was about addiction in the gay chemsex scene and used a cast of seven. The ending, showing the utter tragedy of addiction, was movingly effective and good to see politicians being lampooned for double standards, but it rather got bogged down in a hail of dialogue, graphic and otherwise. The audience often found some jokey wit in this, but I felt a sobersides finding the verbiage and delivery rather tedious. Great masks and orgies though!

Bruce Marriott

Tonight’s Resolutions pushed the boundaries of what dance can be. Whilst so different in content, all three pieces had theatricality at their heart, championing the interdisciplinary approach to dance to take us on a spectacular ride.

Opening the show was Frankie Thompson and Luke Howarth’s Space, transporting us on an endearing expedition through space using projection to play with perspective and scale. Match-box sized scenes and characters came to life before our eyes, all created from human rubbish which added to their rustic charm. An intricate house with a sweet girl inside, toy-like men twirling in space and miniscule animals grooving to the music were just some of the delights on offer, all cleverly performed on stage by the instantly likeable Frankie Thompson. A few wobbly transitions and a bit of a slow-starter but a novel idea that was a cheeky reminder of childhood without taking itself too seriously.

The second, and perhaps most anticipated piece of the night was Miguel Altunaga’s (Re)Home, engulfing us into a dystopia of great intensity, portraying the lack of intimacy and connectedness instigated by the dangers of social media, a topical and inexplicably relatable concept. The captivating performers moved with ease, creating curious and seemingly impossible shapes with their bodies with a gooey, unearthly quality, as though they lacked any bones. Commanding and at times comedic spoken word was used to add force to the movement, interacting well with the entranced audience. A powerful, well-developed piece that struck a great balance of both ambiguity and clarity.

Finally, we hit the party with Trah & Chips Ensemble’s masterfully named A Rabbit Climbed a Ladder To The Moon And Danced With A God, And A Lie Is A Real Thing, a hard-hitting story of sex and drug addiction in the gay community told through witty, hilarious dialogue intertwined with outbursts of gyrating hips, feisty pulses and sassy head bops. The fully formed piece combined with the commitment of the insanely talented performers had the audience intoxicated, making us laugh, cry, shout out responses and everything in-between. A genius mix of danger and excitement culminating with a harrowing cry for help that was deeply moving and bold. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Megan Hamer


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