Friday, October 12, 2012

Body Language Speaks - I on the Sky and Play Without Words - Theatre Reviews

I on the Sky - DynamO Théâtre at Young People's Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Written and Directed by Yves Simard
Runs until Oct. 21st 2012

Matthew Bourne's Play Without Words - New Adventure in association with National Theatre at Sadler's Wells - London, UK - ***** (out of 5 stars)
Devised by Matthew Bourne based on the Joseph Losey film The Servant, Music by Terry Davies
Ended Aug. 5th 2012

I on the Sky is a beautiful little poetic movement play by Montreal's DynamO Théâtre created for young audiences, but is so artfully done, adults could easily appreciate, and be moved emotionally. As a young girl gets lost in a storm and finds herself alone on a park bench, she watches the world around her pass by, and looks to the sky to connect to her past, to her dreams.

The cast of five manages to create a whole world in a city park, with amusing characters passing the bench, in what becomes a sort of dance piece, elevated by acrobatic elements from the circus trained cast. With a trampoline hidden between the set of benches, the action happens so smooth and lyrically all around the simple set, with a projection screen behind showing various incarnations of the sky.

As the director notes, no matter how lonely we all get, we can always look up to the same sky, no matter where we are. And the young girl (a serene Andréanne Joubert) yearns for her family, becomes smitten with a young man (a gentile Frédéric Nadeau), all while bullies in the park steal her sheet music, an old lady requires help sitting on the bench, and a sanitary worker dances while oblivious to the world. It's in the sequence with the young man, who keeps showing up to woo our girl on the bench, when our hearts break, as we see the reason why he's not part of the girl's actual reality, and a wind of dark realism washes over, and we understand the presence of a trio of creepy faceless people who have been haunting our girl.

10 years ago, choreographer Matthew Bourne was commissioned by the National Theatre to produce another one of his famed dance shows, and he took inspiration in the film The Servant (with a screenplay adapted by Harold Pinter). Bourne turned it into Play Without Words, and now 10 years later, the creative team and some of the original cast had reunited for a revival of this seminal dance play.

As the title suggests, Bourne turned the film into a fully danced play, without using any words, and it's a phenomenal piece of theatre, with beautiful and haunting choreography that manages to easily tell the tale of a wealthy man, his manservant, their lovers, and a jealous rival, and the sultry manipulations used between the different classes as a shift in power begins, all in the era of the British 1960's. It's a sexy psychological drama that requires the cast to show as much emotion, and convey entire passages within the subtlety of body language.

Bourne creates a genius device of casting the main characters using three dancers in each role. Not only do three dancers form a choreographic pattern when they dance together, it also allows scenes to split off into different directions as the same character does different things, giving us a very film-like montage quality, keeping the drama moving at a fast pace.

Dancing upon Lez Brotherston's beautiful set, lit in an atmospheric lighting by Paule Constable, the amazing cast evoke the 60's era with Terry Davies' jazz score. The entire production is haunting and incredibly emotionally moving and thrilling.

Photos of I on the Sky © Robert Etcheverry.
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