Edinburgh Festival Fringe dance review: Liberation, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Pollock.
“You would think that having made your money you’d go home and have an orgy or a banquet,” is the conclusion of this vibrant and breezily life-affirming piece from the Alchemist Theatre Company, but instead it notes that the overwhelming majority of us settle for an evening of television and the dinner to go with it. Much talked about for reasons which are probably obvious, this show seeks to free its audience’s perceptions in the most visceral way; it’s a celebration of nudity as a means of free, unshackled expression and enjoyment of the world.
Despite the nudge-nudge-wink-wink stories which are still told, access to a Fringe show these days is highly unlikely to result in gratuitous nudity, although if you ever do witness it, it’s likely to be used as a brazen shock tactic by an inexperienced company. It doesn’t take long to get over these associations with Liberation.
Lying unclothed on the stage as the audience file in, a young woman is “born” unsteadily into life, like a baby deer. The other dancers, males wearing grey suits, women in functional black dresses, enter and paint a suit on her body, the uniform of conformity. Then they’re off and running, desperately trying to claw a few inches ahead of one another.
This “rat race” imagery gives way to a delicate and beautifully choreographed physical reflection on human experience and emotion, all told by the company of seven (three women, two men and two male musicians playing drums and percussion behind a screen) with skilled enthusiasm and large quantities of liquid and powder paints thrown against one another. It’s a beautiful, sensual performance, made more so by the fact that its control and expressive breadth means the performers being undressed soon becomes secondary.
Zoo Southside (Venue 82) until 19 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 17 August 2015
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