DanceDramaNorth WestPerformance ArtReview

May Contain Food– The Lowry, Salford

Director: Luca Silvestrini

Reviewer: Helen Jones

Luca Silvestrini’s Protein Dance company has one of the most original voices in contemporary dance, using a mix of dance, text, music and humour to create performances which inform as well as entertain. Usually based around socially relevant themes, their aim is to blend story with realityand invite the audience to be engaged in the message.

May Contain Food is an exploration of how man relates to the food he eats, not just as it is prepared and eaten but the complex processes involved in getting it from seed to final product and the commercialism involved.

Eight performers are the wait staff for the evening and each table is themed in it’s decoration, there being feathers, fur, fruit, vegetables, bread, pasta, grass etc. It feels like a rather avent garde dining experience and even the taster menu sounds extreme. Starting with “A virtuoso eruption of sour juice encased in a ripe, vermillion rotunda of velvety flesh” and ending with “A mouthful of baked genius” it is already obvious that this is not going to be a classic theatre performance.

The taster courses are served over the course of the show, but never detract and are designed to interact with the songs, text and dance that carries the evening along. Each course comes with it’s own description and dining experience, to enable the audience to fully appreciate what they are eating.

However it is the music and dance which is the real star of the show. Orlando Gough’s music is modern, harmonic and strangely beautiful while the lyrics are often acerbic or even disturbing in their subject matter. The four ‘dancers’ Carl Harrison, Matthew Winston, Saara Hurme and Sonya Cullingford are all highly expressive and skilled, but they are as much singers as the singers, while the ‘singers’, Donna Lennard, Louise Sofield, Martin George and Michael Henry, are also part of the dancing.

Each performer has their own moments as the central character but it is the ensemble work that stands out. Creating depth and harmonies in accapella form, while moving around interacting with the ‘customers’, showcases each performer’s skill.

May Contain Food is not your usual evening’s theatrical entertainment and in many ways you leave less hungry than you arrived, not because of the food you have eaten but because of the consideration you now give to what you might eat. However it is a highly enjoyable and thought provoking piece of performance art, which well deserves to be tasted.

Runs until 2nd March 2016

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