‘Verge’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by November 21, 2013

‘Verge’ is a stunning dance arrangement, choreographed by Patrice Smith. It was first presented in ‘Summer Nights at Fringe World’ at the beginning of this year, becoming nominated for the Fringe Award, ‘Best Dance’.

This amazing gruelling, contemporary dance routine is being presented by the Blue Room in conjunction with Sally Richardson and Patrice Smith. It is showing in the main theatre, Blue Room, 53 James Street, Northbridge.

The 60-minute performances are at 7.00 pm each alternate evening, interchanging with the equally breath-taking ‘Standing Bird’, until Saturday 30th November.

The house lights dim, and the stage glows to show three dancers dressed in black, standing in three corners of the square stage. Two of the walls are large, reflective sheets of aluminium.

One of the shorter girls (Bernadette Lewis) strode up threateningly to the woman diagonally opposite (Laura Boynes), and glares at her in an intimidating manner. The woman is not frightened, so the attacker retreats and starts a training regime to make her more powerful for a future attack. Her exercises were heart-pounding, fast and focused. After a few minutes of a taxing workout, the girl starts a slow moving routine when she seemed to balance on an invisible fulcrum. Whilst standing on the toes of one foot, the other leg and her body would contort without the slightest flicker in her balance. A true demonstration of power and athleticism.

There follows a perfectly synchronised dance with the three performers bouncing off the walls like a set of pistons, rapidly the pace increased and the pattern of their movements became variable. The tallest dancer (Jacqui Claus) then begins upper torso flexing, starting with a tortuous neck movement, again, like the first dancer, she ended with a finely controlled, slow moving, balancing act. No sooner had she finished, when the third dancer challenged her in a brutal way. Realising her stupidity the aggressor ran away, but there was no escape as the others buffeted her around.

The pounding melody, with a blend of low rumbling kettledrums and the sharp click of drumsticks, the atmosphere was tense. This would be intermingled with short passages of soft piano music (sound design and production, Joe Lui and Kingsley Reeve). Joe Lui also devised the stunning subtle lighting. The dancers’ outfits were not the usual simple, pedestrian black dresses, but had good design (Fiona Bruce).

The actors filled the floor space and even invaded the audience space, as a leg or arm would be swung across in front of one’s face, effectively dragging the onlookers into their world. Even though the performance was highly physical, the dancers seemed to flow supplely through the routine, barely perspiring a drop – although one suspects that, a great deal of trauma was going on inside their bodies. The tension and unease between the actors was palpable in this interesting story thread (dramaturg by Humphrey Bower).

As someone who enjoys a waltz around the dance floor for a couple of tunes – then a rest – to watch 60-minutes of such skill, timing and exhausting perfection these human dynamos had my full admiration. The audience left absolutely drained.

Contemporary dance is not real my forte, and perhaps my interpretation is not quite right, but I am certain that most non-dancers would be stunned by such talent.

The team FULLY deserved their curtain call. Spectacular.