News & Blogs

11 February 2020
Author: Suzanne Frost & Abbie Jones

Thu 13 Feb: Sophie Page Hall/ Kamienski./ Gruesome Twosome Tales

Sophie Page Hall Out of Dakness

Kamienski.Family Portrait

Gruesome Twosome Tales The Quest for the Baby

The handful of circus art performers at Resolution have an immediate advantage because in a sea of floor bound dancers, someone suspended in mid-air is by default eye catching. Sophie Page Hall begins her aerial silk performance cocooned in the material, red light, haze and the sound of a beating, pulsing heart. She emerges this birthing bubble and launches into an incoherent, stream of consciousness monologue filled with imagery of nature and poetic metaphors – beautiful yet hard to follow, despite her impressive vocal projection. It appears what this work wants to explore is nothing less than the meaning of life itself – which is a heavy load to hang off a piece of fabric. After the strong imagery of birth, death sees Hall transform the silk into giant butterfly wings, flapping back and forth until fade out. Undoubtedly very beautiful, but impossible to grasp.

Broken furniture, discarded shoes, a forgotten suitcase, the sound of gunshots in the distance and a group of faceless figures in semi darkness – there’s a nightmarish atmosphere to Family Portrait, in the obsessively repeated movement, the 70s B-movie florals and lots of tangled hair. We appear to be following a family of six, though how they relate to each other is unclear. They never show affection or support, even when problems with alcoholism and suicide are hinted at. The sophisticated weaving duets and trios prove a high level of choreographic instinct, yet ultimately, the stubborn ambiguity of the work left me literally craving for some kind of meaning - but my, what beautiful dancers!

The Gruesome Twosome Tales cite their love of Tim Burton films as an inspiration and initially it’s an easy win. The physical comedy duo earns early giggles simply for looking fantastic, Daisy Franks with her Helena Bonham-Carter beehive, Mateus Daniels throwing angular expressionist Jack Skellington shapes. But the two pantomime villains never really take off, their race through fairy tale clichés isn’t quite funny enough nor scary enough but it’s certainly entertaining and I imagine audiences at Vaults festival would love its gothic silliness.

Suzanne Frost

A beacon of draped fabric cuts through the darkened space and provides the opening image for Out of Darkness. Engulfing the shadowy figure of choreographer and soloist Sophie Page Hall, the body and material swiftly merge into one. Scaling, comfortably hidden from sight, a series of aerial work occurs. Wrapping, swinging, spiralling; movement clauses connect to the rhythmic tongue of Hall’s spoken word monologue that overlays. The language itself provides little context for narrative, as it appears to reflect a projection of mis-matched thoughts as opposed to a cohesive trail of text, leading to disengagement. Perhaps this was intentional but to rely on 25 minutes of aerial work to maintain presence is a stretch.

Kamienski’s Family Portrait provides the most movement material of the night, by far. Complete with interactions of varying sizes, fleeting moments of intrigue are found in how the bodies coil and weave around each other, navigating the in-between spaces. The strength of physical play draws attention to the technical ability, power and dynamism of the five-piece cast, however, as a seemingly character-lead work, the interpersonal relationships remain unclear and the familial narrative never reveals itself. Its disjointed structure and fast-paced transitions prevent the poignant moments of tension, in the form of pushing, pulling and convulsions, from finding its meaning and, ultimately, delivering a comprehensive solution.

Tim Burton, fairy tales and gothic imagery; Gruesome Twosome Tales’ The Quest for The Baby promised for a light and entertaining watch, a sweet successor to the intensity of the prior works. Strutting onto the stage, costumed in theatrical wedding attire, the corpse bride and groom grunt, pick and poke their way through the space, an evil plan in motion. Whilst Mateus Daniel and Daisy Franks’ performance relationship was somewhat amusing and the commitment to communicating a story was present in the production value, this work sits in a mediocre medium, requiring heightened expressive and physical animation if it aims to achieve the status of a gothic-horror pantomime piece.

Abbie Jones.


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