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In Our own Company 'CCC'; Jean Abreu 'O LUNGO DROM'; Naked Fish Productions 'Nocturne for Night Cleaning'

by Sanjoy Roy

Sat 14 February 04 -- Robin Howard Theatre, London

Image - Jean Abreu

Resolution! opened with three of the best from last year, selected by The Place director John Ashford, and it closed with new works from the same companies. A seal of approval, certainly, but also a record to live up to, like that notoriously difficult second novel. So how did they fare?

Unpredictably. In the second round, Jean Abreu certainly improved on his previous work, but in the pieces by Sarah Fahie/Antonio Caporilli and Gildas Diquero/Stuart Lynch it was the premise that showed most promise.

Sarah Fahie’s Nocturne for Night Cleaning has a marvellous premise, and some stunning imagery. Two cleaners rifle through the debris of a day’s activity. Ghostly plastic bags waft and float in amoebic shapes, like ectoplasm. Scattered bottles are empty shells that once contained a vital energy. Evelyn Ficarra’s score is a highly atmospheric montage, scraps of Chopin played over mechanical squeaks, rattles and grinds. There are some fine moments: Caporilli plays his body like a jazz ensemble but induces mere sneezing from Fahie; industrial hoovers suck the isolated dancers into a reluctant, filtered encounter. But the piece is too fleeting and too cryptic to hold our attention: it seems made entirely of loose ends, as fragmentary as the flotsam on stage.

In C.C.C. (Collaboration, Contamination, Contradiction), by Gildas Diquero and Stuart Lynch, the disjunction between narration and movement – which lent a needling edge to their earlier work – becomes a hindrance. Lynch plays a devil-masked Mephistopheles who delivers blasé profanities and threats, though (thanks be to god) he graciously draws the line at audience participation. His warm-up spiel gives way to a solo by Gildas Diquero, a consummate dancer with an intense inner focus. Like the Bach piano writing to which he moves, his body seems inhabited by more than one voice. Other voices then enter the stage: Martina Langmann, another dancer with great poise, David Leahy doodling on his double bass, and finally Lynch again, who wrestles Diquero to the ground. There are many intringuing interactions going on here, but they don’t quite add up to more than the sum of their parts.

Jean Abreu’s O Lungo Drom has a clear premise, beautifully realised. The effective lighting design by Sarah Gilmartin suggests corridors of light, slanting rays, shadowy corners. Abreu begins his journey by following the lit paths, but his body begins to pull in different directions. He keeps returning to an upright stance, but his circling arms tug his torso away from his legs, and he swivels and hinges like a rotating door. When the lighting simply blankets the stage, it’s as if his journey has left him at a loss, with no landmarks to guide him. It’s a haunting image, and the piece could have ended there. As it was, the subsequent section provided a more sentimental close, like a feel-good ending tacked onto the body of a darker and more disturbing story. But Abreu’s feline presence is captivating throughout.

This article was written for Resolution! Review on the Place's website.  For more, click here: Resolution! Review


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