DanceNorth WestReview

Stepmother/Stepfather – The Lowry, Salford

Choreographer/Director: Arthur Pita

Reviewer: Andrea Allen

Like your fairytales with a nice ending? Arthur Pita and HeadSpaceDance folklore inspired double-bill Stepmother / Stepfather is as far from all smiles as it gets. If you’re expecting a comforting, feel-good evening with a few pliés and twirls, you’d best leave now.

Inspired by Country Death Song, a song by folk punk band Violent Femmes. Stepfather is a twisted fusion of modern dance, cabaret, vaudeville and a few of your more trippy nightmares. Revived on its tenth anniversary, Stepfather is the disquieting revelation of a man who becomes romantically involved with his Stepdaughter. Cabaret-style frilly dresses and puppet-like choreography ensure the daughters are more chilling than childlike. Periodically mirrored by Christopher Akrill’s noose-chafed necked, identically dressed Stepfather. Karl Fagerlund Brekke’s lank-haired, hollow-cheeked Stepfather is saddled with a haunted expression and ghostly, inhuman movements, perfectly embodying a man haunted by the shadow of his own death. As the curtain falls the Stepfather spins perpetually in his noose, cradling his dead Stepdaughter, dripping wet from the well which he threw her down, an image paradoxically as poetically beautiful as it is hauntingly grotesque.

Pita’s preceding piece, Stepmother, wrenches up Disney’s sanitised fairytales and reverts them to their grotesque, sinister origins. Grimm’s gore thrives as eyes are gouged out, hands are sliced off and a happy ending couldn’t be further from sight. However, While dark, the monstrousness, off-beat eeriness and downright diabolical climate Pita conjures in Stepfather fails to materialise. While performances are strong, particularly the chillingly doll-like Corey Claire Annand as The Ingénue, the anticipated horror and monstrosities are mildly unsettling at most.

Dark and disturbing with echoes of Tim Burton, Stephen King and that dark pit you hit when you’re unable to sleep, you’re best off skipping the first half, they’ve saved the best until last.

 Reviewed on 9 May 2017 | Image: Contributed


Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

Dark and Disturbing

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The Reviews Hub - North West

The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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