★★★ | FAR – CAST Theatre, Doncaster
Based on an 18th-century text, Flesh in the Age of Reason, (hence the acronym, FAR), choreographer Wayne McGregor’s piece ventures into the relationship between the flesh and the mind. Utilising a backdrop of a pin board of thousands of LED’s, glistening and twinkling like the firing of neurological pathways, a troupe of ten incredibly agile and flexible dancers intertwined and knotted together their bodies as they conveyed how ideas are formed and spread into the physicality of creativity.
Minimalist lighting enhanced the piece, showcasing the dancers and their incredible suppleness. The fluidity of their movement was visually intriguing as they contorted their bodies in a heady mix of extended limbs, ripples and head rolls, working throughout the performance with a professional determination and intensity. The piece left me in no doubt as to the talent of the cast, with their precision movements and the sheer power of their toned and muscular physicality contrasting with the flaccidity of some of their more exaggerated double-jointed dance steps.
The accompanying soundtrack started promisingly, with subtlety and a classic feel to it, as a duet of barefooted dancers performed a tender routine flanked by four torch bearers, but soon descended into a more industrial auditory landscape, with its constant clatters, pulses, bangs and harsh rasps which assaulted the audience with little discernible melody. The brief respites of a more traditional score were occasional and welcome, but not frequent enough and one could only think about how different the piece could have been with the addition of a more forgiving acoustic accompaniment.
The piece is challenging, with an absence of an easily identifiable narrative and a feeling of a number of short pieces knitted together, but it ultimately left me feeling somewhat confused, with the theme of the interplay between art and science being conveyed less precisely than the movements displayed on stage. However, where McGregor does succeed is the demonstration of what can be achieved by the body when pushed to its physical limits in tandem with allowing the mind to be creative; and whether you appreciate the abstract nature of the piece or not, there is much to be admired in the physicality of the performance created.
More information on the company can be found at http://www.randomdance.org/home . FAR was viewed at Doncaster Cast Theatre; who has a varied selection of mainstream and niche productions in their current season.