After a week largely composed of performances from the East I'm beginning to become familiar with certain styles (mostly a great deal of colour), musical idioms (rather minimalist), gestures (hand wringing, clothes wringing) and attitude to narrative (dispense with it). Frankly, the novelty is wearing off.
The second offering in the Festival's Dance programme, from Korea's Eun-Me Ahn Company has all of this. Once again (as at The Peony Pavilion) there is a lengthy synopsis, in this case of the myth of Princess Bari printed in the programme. You may as well not bother buying and reading it. Occasionally a fragment surfaces but this is a mostly plotless piece of modern dance.
This would work if the dance were sufficiently interesting. For me, it was not. There is somewhat more choreography than in The Peony Pavilion but it all overstays its welcome. There is nowhere near enough here to sustain a piece lasting 90 minutes. I congratulate the dancers on the way they throw themselves around and some of the more acrobatic leaps and balances are impressive, but as with so much of this stuff in the productions offered this festival it struck me again as style over substance. The repetition became boring, the various segments did not seem to me to form a coherent whole, and as with Pavilion I was left thoroughly emotionally cold.
In fairness there were some audience members who were obviously blown away by it, but I was not among them.
One housekeeping note, the Playhouse badly needs to sort out the chaos which is its front of house management. There were still people standing around in the isles when the lights went down with no sign of any usher in the vicinity to sort them out. The first 15 minutes in the Stalls were pretty constantly disrupted by latecomers being admitted. Despite the fact that there were acres of empty seats behind me they kept being led forward to their assigned seating and the rake of the Stalls is sufficiently shallow that this results in a severe blockage to one's view. This is not acceptable front of house management and steps should be taken to rectify the situation.
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