ReviewSouth West

Rambert: Death Trap – Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Reviewer: Beth Steer

Devised & directed by: Ben Duke

Assistant Choreographer & Re-stager: Winifred Burnet-Smith

Death Trap– a coproduction between Rambert and Théâtre de la Ville – is pitted as a ‘meta dance comedy, full of the turbulence of life and death’ that promises to be ‘darkly funny and packed with originality’. And on that front, it certainly delivers.

Comprised of two short performances, both created for Rambert’s fantastic dancers by Ben Duke, and complete with a heady mix of funeral couture, Nina Simone, and more than a little dose of the absurd, Death Trap runs at just over an hour and a half long.And, in that time, you can expect to be enchanted, bemused, and somewhat entranced by the bizarre events unfolding on stage.

The first half, titledCerberus, muses over myth and mortality, and is startling in its presentation of dance as – quite literally – a matter of life or death. With elaborate costume, striking staging, and a touching and persistent call back to Orpheus and the underworld, the piece starts with a comedic voice-over from one of the performers, stating, in no uncertain terms, that they take ‘no responsibility for the concept’.

Goat, on the other hand, feels like a mix of an ode to Nina Simone and a perplexing rendition ofLord of the Flies,complete with haunting chanting, a goat mask (for the sacrifice, obviously), a live band and vocalist, and post-it notes scrawled with atrocities and stuck to the torso of the ‘chosen one’. It’s entirely, utterly bizarre: the plot is fairly loose, and the emotional connection falls short in a way thatCerberus’exceeds expectations given its short duration.

The dancers themselves are, of course, brilliant and flawlessly-timed. The staging, smart in its simplicity, is clever and powerful. The score is captivating, and the band enthusiastic. Both performances are certainly intriguing – daringly savage at points, actively uncomfortable at others, and humorous at times, too. Death Trap intentionally pushes boundaries, and it succeeds.

Fans of Rambert’s previous (and popular) Peaky Blinders tour won’t be disappointed. Catch it while you can.

Runs until: 9th April 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Darkly comedic

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