Director: Jennifer Paterson
Design and Costume: Becky Minto
Lighting Design: Kate Bonney
Composer: Luke Sutherland
Reviewer: S.E. Webster
As the month of January ushers in cold wind, heavy rains and snow, theatregoers will be cheered to hear that the New Year has also brought with it the 8th annual Manipulate Visual Theatre Festival. Helping to kickstart 2015’s theatrical calendar is Scotland’s principal aerial dance company, All or Nothing, with their latest performance Three’s A Crowd. Involving six performers, the new production showcases an exciting cocktail of aerial dance, acrobatics and circus skills.
The Traverse Theatre, which serves as the home venue to the Manipulate Festival, provides the performers with a wonderful space within which to demonstrate their training in a variety of different mediums, including harness flying, circus aerial hoops and aerial silks. The latter is particularly impressive and the performers demonstrate incredible control, flexibility and skill.Furthermore, all of the performers deserve praise for their acting ability and powerful onstage chemistry as characters within the project.
Unfortunately, the main concept and storyline behind the acrobatics of a reunion of old friends is often rather opaque and obscure. The purpose of the large rectangular frame is also ambiguous; one assumes that it represents a photographic frame of memories, at times empty or occupied by the performers, but it does serve as an interesting feature with which the performers can interact. In some cases, costume seems to have been ill advised; trainers and jeans seem restrictive and poor lines subsequently result.
Lighting, however, is highly effective in conveying the varying moods and tensions between the characters. Likewise, Luke Sutherland’s soundtrack, while incredibly varied, should be praised and in theory ought to compliment the physical performance. Unfortunately, the ensemble rarely seems to properly engage with the music, often dancing in spite of the beat. It is also disappointing that the musical transitions between the lyrical scenes and those that are heavily energised, with lots of drum and bass accompaniment, are very abrupt. There is little fading between the tracks and the result is some rather awkward pauses between scene changes and the two recurring and highly contrasting musical themes.
Nevertheless, this is not to take away from the incredible skill and ability of All or Nothing, and the great work they are doing in introducing increasing numbers of theatregoers to fresh and dynamic performance, all the while helping to put Scottish aerial dance on the map.
Reviewed on 31 January 2015 then touring