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Monday, 21 March 2022

REVIEW: This is How You Will Disappear by Gisele Vienne at Sadler's Wells



What happens when you create a giant forest on a stage and put into it a gymnast, her serial killer coach, a rockstar and throw in a real-life wolf for good measure? Despite spending 80 mins in said environment, I am none the wiser. First created in 2010 for the Festival d'Avignon, This is how you will disappear is an ambitious stage production that straddles the identity of art installation, dance and theatre by Gisèle Vienne and is part of Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels at Sadlers Wells Theatre. Although this work is undoubtedly engrossing and boasts imagery that will last in my mind for a long time to come, the overall structure of the work rests unclear, diluting whatever the intention it is meant to have. 

The narrative of the work follows a young gymnast in the forest who is training with her serial killer coach. It is then intertwined with the story of a rockstar who has recently killed his girlfriend and is dealing with the psychological stress of his actions. The ending, with the wight of a great message that is never revealed, introduces a man with a bow and arrows and a live dog/wolf. This together with an epic forest installation shrouded in mist and an assaulting soundtrack that fills the auditorium instantly conjures up horror movie vibes from beginning to end. There is no denying that the design of this work, is spectacular. It not only explores the effects of epic visuals and sound on an audience but also stimulates ones touch and smell senses as the mist onstage (a fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya), bellows out into the audience in a cool damp cloud and fills the space with the smell of foliage. There are several sequences that involve no performers at all and these design elements are allowed to take the spotlight. 
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