DanceNorth East & YorkshirePerformance ArtReview

Side Effects – Riley Theatre, Leeds

Choreographer: Anton Lachky

Reviewer: Peter Gray

As an eclectic piece of dance-drama, Side Effects succeeds in crossing certain boundaries of expectation. At times repulsive and yet comic, powerfully fragmented motifs of movement are punctuated with brutal extremes of physicality reminiscent of an Artaud-inspired performance.

In an explosive mix of the emotional, and sometimes contradictory meanderings of the female protagonist’s mind, played by Patricia Rotondaro, the Anton Lachky company dance to her tune throughout this piece. Whether as a favourite or as the despised, the other dance-characters are at the mercy of this woman’s domineering vocal and physical commands. There is little room for resistance amid the extreme fits of fury, jealously guarded doting, or the sexual enticement that emanates from her exposed and unfettered inner psyche that turns dreams into nightmarish realities.

Movement sequences, to a wide variety of classical music and scenic sound effects, favour body isolations with ever-present hand designs often used as power gestures to instigate impulsive responses in Decroux- or Derevo-like fashion. With overt sexual cravings and the brutal punishment that she inflicts on those she controls, her mental state is torn between these animalistic behaviours and the obsessive adoration of innocence and perfection. This appears to be the personification of a mind released from all constraints, obsessed by itself and its hedonistic tendencies. Yet, no motivations are revealed as to why each of the other characters deserves such treatment.

At the end of the piece, pity is all that remains for the woman protagonist, so-called ‘Mummy’, who is now wracked to pieces with her ranting, steadily more distressed and obsessively incoherent. Almost as a piece of human detritus, she becomes an embarrassment to her favourite son who picks her up slowly and tenderly, removing her from the stage.

As a dramatised dance-interpretation of a delusional mind, Side Effects is a mysterious, disturbing performance that provokes more questions than it answers, especially about what life might look like if such a psyche was given free reign.

Touring Nationwide | Image:Joris De Bolle

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