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Saturday 1 October 2011

Belvoir's 'Human Interest Story' presented by Lucy Guerin Inc & dissected by me

Hello Upstairs Belvoir. What's going on? Your downstairs experimental work is finding its way upstairs and I'm not unhappy about this.

'Human Interest Story', choreographed and devised by Lucy Guerin and cast is a foray into dance and physical theatre, aiming to 'synthesise the many relationships between the news and our experience'.

I found Guerin's show fascinating in its referencing dance and movement to express our everyday exposure to the media and the dichotomy and then sometimes correlation between our actions and our world. Perhaps Guerin's point of showcasing our privilege of prancing juxtaposed to the dangerous or current events outside our own door was explored most effectively in Stephanie Lake's freedom of movement and disinterested responses to the chorus of questions posed by the television-hypnotised, robotic company. The humour of this moment was further enhanced with Anton Enus giving such newsworthy credibility to the trivial and banal lifes of the troupe in their everyday interactions.

The 'power' moment came for me in their deconstruction of the print media, carefully laying out each page of the broadsheet before leaping, shredding and stuffing it into the costume of performer Alisdair Macindoe and then sprinting around him and pushing him to the floor. This frenetic and hostile impulse to the news and its carriers or those who dress in its words was an incredibly engaging moment.

My attention did wane in the last 20 minutes through the deliberate repetition of the news and action and although the point wasn't lost on me, my focus and attention was tested and it made this 70 minute show feel considerably longer. However, I accept that this was the point but it did test the generosity of its audience and probably detracted from creating a thorough and completely powerful piece of theatre.

The experienced theatregoer used to popular realism will struggle to shift into the world of contemporary dance. Dramatic expression in this form of this stylised movement is not restricted to communicate traditional narrative based action. This can mean that as an audience member I am trying to read meaning and understanding in every gesture and it is hard to let that go. So I didn't always follow every moment with dramatic coherence and had to abandon style to engage in form.

If Belvoir are going to aim for a younger vibe in its audience, it will best be achieved through works like this and not butchering the classics and dumbing them down for the masses.

Bravo Belvoir for taking the road less taken.

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