DanceReviewSouth West

Carlos Acosta: On Before – Theatre Royal Plymouth

Reviewer: Indigo Cleverley

On Before marks the return of world renowned dancer Carlos Acosta in this collaborative showcase of major UK and international dance makers including Russel Maliphant and Kim Brandstrup, as well as Carlos’ own choreography. Incorporating a myriad of dance styles, both naturalistic and abstract, each sequence captivates audiences and the silence of the auditorium reveals their enrapture in this breathtaking performance.

As the lights dim, we are launched into the first dance, a duet between Carlos Acosta and Laura Rodriguez ,who’s effortless movements and ethereal grace is mesmerising. Their unfaltering connection and trust in one another is evident as they delicately balance and confide in one another ; it’s almost as if they are one person. Acosta’s solo piece which follows is almost inter-dimensional, with abrupt lighting and music changes, performing fluidly to out of sync percussion with an electric presence as he commands the stage.

The second act commences, revealing the Lyric stage illuminated by candles creating an ambient atmosphere, underpinning Laura Rodriguez’s lyrical free-flowing performance to Handel’s ‘Per te lasciai la luce’ – this is a standout performance. As the mass of candles are safely extinguished a projection screen falls, presenting ‘Falling Deep Inside’, a slow motion film shot exploring ‘emotions and tension that exist between two lovers’. This unique cinematic interlude is refreshing and the echoing of sounds is effective in creating an intimate atmosphere. The finale is sombre and melancholic, exploring grief – which inspired Acosta to create this production after his mothers death. The motivation of the ominous all-black bracket is disclosed as they erupt into a powerfully poignant choral symphony ‘O Magnum Mysterium’.

Depicting a doomed relationship, the narrative throughout is powerfully portrayed through the dances but also the music styles, pace and volume. The unlikely musical repertoire ranging from Handel to contemporary Cuban supports and conveys the fluctuating relationship and emotions. Furthermore, the lighting, although minimalistic, is evocative and delicately designed, portraying confinement through the narrowing spotlight and communicating setting through silhouettes of windows. Sound and lighting are fundamental aspects of this show and underscore the creative choreography.

Overall, On Before leaves you mesmerised by the sheer power of multiple creatives, designers and choreographers working together to make a beautiful show. An astounding exhibition of talent, passion and strength, Carlos Acosta: On Before is a phenomenal show, fit for all ages.

Runs until 28th February 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

evocative and delicate

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