Monday, 1 October 2018

REVIEW: Point of Echoes at The Place

Drawing a fine line between dance and physical theatre, choreographer Ben Wright creates an accessible work, perfectly loyal to its original intent. Commissioned by the Rural Touring Dance Initiative, Warwick Arts Centre and DanceEast, Point of Echoesstems from a three-year project aimed at supporting the making and touring of contemporary dance in rural areas. 

To facilitate this purpose, Wright's evocative piece relies heavily on the use of spoken word and a relatable body language that all will find easy to read. Will Holt's design is equally adaptable, with a round wooden platform in the centre of a traverse stage, to recall the base of a lighthouse.

It's the year 1978 and Eric Valentine (Thomas Heyes) has been hired to assist Bernard Humphries (Dom Czapski) in maintaining the Echo Point lighthouse, somewhere off the coast of England. He's a simple-minded young man and his naivety clashes with Bernard's short-tempered mood and darker behaviour. After a slower first act in which we get to know the characters, the second half finally takes off and the plot offers some gripping twists and turns.

On December 22nd – the day of the winter solstice – the long hours of darkness make the evening feel endless and Bernard looks for solace in a bottle of moonshine which is willing to share with his quirky companion. After some initial reluctance, Eric accepts the drink. Suddenly, the reality blurs and blends with the characters' flashbacks, whilst they start being haunted by their untold griefs and regrets. These take the shape of a female ghostly presence (Marta Masiero), who clings onto their bodies and possesses their thoughts, slowly driving them to madness. 

This spectral atmosphere is echoed by Stuart Warwick's music and Alan Stones's seaside soundscape, on a bleak set immersed in Lucy Hansom's eerie lighting. The effect is chilling and Masiero's nimble body moulds some bloodcurdling scenes, reminiscent of classic horror films.

Eventually, the story lands on a final verbal account, which feels redundant and dims the adrenaline previously generated. Being this better knitted into the action, the uncanny impact of this modern supernatural tale would have been maximised. 

Point of Echoesis not a piece for dance purists, who would expect solid and meticulously-choreographed routines throughout the show. This is more of a taster for those audiences who might be put off by the lack of accessible languages in contemporary dance and, ultimately, is an enjoyable and engaging work which offers several layers of meaning to be explored.

Review by Marianna Meloni

Rating: ★★★

Seat: unreserved | Price of ticket: £17
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