Charge is a production with distinct peaks and troughs. Its moments of excitement leave the audience gasping in awe, but there is more than the occasional moment of filler too. Its six committed performers are relentless in their energy and impressively brave, repeatedly throwing themselves into unfathomable lifts and drops. At times, though, the action feels chaotic.
Although visually exciting, the themes the company seek to convey (as per Finnan’s programme notes about energy and the electrical signals to our brains) are complex, and Charge is best enjoyed as a fun and experimental performance of dance and acrobatics.
The performance weaves in and out of narrative with snatches of stories used to convey the importance of energy in our everyday lives. The opening moments are slow; a woman (Martina Bussi) hangs precariously from the ceiling, held only by material tied to her ankles while a man (Alasdair Stewart) struggles on the floor. The woman twists and turns herself using her own strength and the material in a process reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil, before finally guiding herself down onto the stage.
The full company then take to the stage in lab coats to a jerky musical accompaniment of heady strings (courtesy of Tim Dickinson and Sophy Smith) . One cannot fault their slick synchronised movements and the fearless way in which performers are thrown around: Naomi Tadevossian is especially weightless as she floats through the air, passed from one to another almost casually.
Later there is a segment in which two women (Bussi and Rebecca Williams) stand on the shoulders of their male counterparts with legs fully stretched before one clambers onto another, forming a human tower of three and then four. The fourth reaches to the ceiling of the stage where they hang, before dropping back down to the stage and into a forward roll.
Finnan’s shows certainly move quickly. If one section does not take your fancy, the next might do and is only five minutes away. One moment the dancers navigate themselves against a projection of a spinning city environment, the next they are inside a beating human heart, mimicking its rhythm.
The merging of the dancers’ movements with the digital backdrop is one of the greatest successes of the show, and certainly impressive to the many younger audience members. A digital image of a toaster throwing its contents up into the air then sees a physical piece of bread being caught. Another time the cast disappear into a virtual backdrop but re-emerge physically elsewhere on the stage. It’s brain fuddling and breathtaking all at once.
If you’ve not seen Motionhouse’s unique brand of dance theatre before, it may certainly be worth your time. However, be prepared for some unstructured narrative ideas and general busyness. It doesn’t all quite make sense but perhaps it shouldn’t have to. There is still much to enjoy in these valiant dancers and their innovative use of visuals and set.
|What||Motionhouse: Charge Review|
|Where||Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, London, WC2A 2HT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Holborn (underground)|
21 Mar 18 – 24 Mar 18, 19:30 Sat mat.: 14:30 Dur.: 70 minutes no interval
|Website||Click here to book via the Peacock website|