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Dom Czapski and Jamie Hamilton Funeral Music

Phoebe Shu-Ching ChanDrifting.漂浮

Alice+SynneStill Changes

“I’m fine!” insists a disgruntled, recently fired man; skipping across the stage as he narrates and dances his way through the handover between himself and his replacement. In Dom Czapski and Jamie Hamilton’sFuneral Music, sound combines with – and sometimes overshadows – movement, eliciting both laughter and contemplation. What limited choreography there is primarily occurs in conjunction with a recorded voiceover, expressing the fired employee’s true, darker feelings. It’s a smart idea - using the inherently nonverbal medium of dance whilst exploring ideas around masculine repression and regret. Although the communication of these ideas relies heavily on music and voice, Funeral Music remains a witty and insightful piece of theatre.

We are then taken on a somber search for belonging in Phoebe Shu-Ching Chan’sDrifting.漂浮. Unable to settle, the trio of dancers spend a significant proportion of the time walking across the stage and into the wings. When this is interrupted by their elegant, sweeping movements, it is particularly special. Their more weighted, graceful contact work is a memorable highlight, leaving me longing for more. However, although the lack of dynamic variation and brevity of these moments of togetherness can become frustrating, it feels like that is the point; the audience is forced to share their restless yearning for settled stability.

The night was brought to a dramatic conclusion as Alice+Synne took on Ovid’s epic poem ‘Metamorphoses’ in Still Changes. The sharp, angular movement of the opening soloist provided a welcome burst of energy. As one dancer emerged from hanging strings of beads, timed perfectly with a twinkling in the music, I knew we were about to witness something special. Meticulously thought out and rehearsed, it was hard not to be enthralled by the striking use of costumes and props, as well as the seemingly effortless musicality of the dancers. Although at times repetitive, the ensemble clearly communicated a sense of conflict and tension, bringing Ovid’s ancient tale to life in a genuinely fresh and electrifying way.

Melina Block

Balancing wry humour and mundanity, Dom Czapski and Jamie Hamilton’s Funeral Music invites us into the world of a meticulous archivist, caught in his job for twenty years until his flamboyant replacement arrives. Augmented by an experimental sound design, performed live, the narrative unravels through the protagonist's increasingly dark, stream of consciousness style, delivery of a dense and detailed script. Minimalist movement underscores this speech, like an embodied form of note-taking. As intelligent and approachable as the work is, its physicality feels the weaker element, rarely revealing more than the audience have already been told.

To discordant piano music, three performers slowly cross the stage, their pathways never meeting. Every so often they adapt their physicality; a change in pace, a shift in the way they walk or interact with the wooden chair they each carry. Little happens in Phoebe Shu-Ching Chan’sDrifting.漂浮 but this seems to be the point, a growing sense of detachment and tedium emanating from the performers. Halfway the pace shifts and the three briefly connect, moving together with a rippling, wave-like softness. In an equally beautiful image they gather on a wooden structure centerstage, waiting and watchful. Yet even in these moments there remains a distance between the performers, their main point of connection seemingly the wooden chairs they return to; simultaneously prop, support and burden. It’s a slow drifting, carefully structured study.

Still Changes transforms the stage, the back door of the theatre left open to reveal a haze filled space that hints at a world beyond the one we immediately see. The clear, measured movement of a solo performer enhances the mystery of this opening. Yet Still Changes is a work that surprises, taking an entirely different direction from that which the opening might suggest. It becomes a showcase of its costumes and visual design, vibrantly brought to life by the dancers. Shedding layers and changing clothes, their movement seems determined by their costume. Frothy white frills match running, tipping steps that fly through the space, while the jangling beads of a tunic lend a more ritualistic vibe. It’s an uplifting, energetic close that blends themes of transformation and ritual with aesthetic extravagance.

Rachel Elderkin