WildCard: Stefan Jovanović – Constellations – Saddler’s Wells, London

Choreographer: Stefan Jovanovic

Reviewer: Sophia Moss

“Would you like to dance?” asks a short woman with curly black hair, white face paint and a loose-fitting white shirt. Constellationsbegins with dancing, singing and audience participation. A male performer, with a white painted face and matching dress, sings a melody made up entirely of “heeeey” cries, while the other performers circulate, asking members of the audience to dance a simple box step duet with them.

Constellations combines physical theatre, moving art, contemporary dance, song and drag to create something which looks like a cross between an improv class and a ritual. Ornate masks, made by Damselfrau, create the sense of an offering, or sacrifice. In some scenes the performers move as if they are possessed – writhing, running and growling through the space.

The music ranges from heartfelt ballads performed by Bliss Carmxn, choppy lip syncs and ritualistic music which one may expect to hear during the witches sabbath.

This show challenges what the audience expects. The audience sits in a full circle surrounding the space, which means there are no ‘safe seats’, but the audience participation doesn’t feel threatening because this is an intimate, informal performance where the cast talks to us like friends. There is no fourth wall in this show: performers are referred to by name, they speak to each other, they talk to the audience and they mill around the foyer, leading us into the space and sitting among us.

The idea of gender is also challenged: the male performers wear dresses, high heels and makeup over their chalk white painted faces. Drag isn’t treated as a statement: it feels natural to see a man in a long pink dress revealing his chest, or wearing sparkly heels, as it should be.

Power is explored through duets: at one point, one performer is led across the stage with a lead attached to his collared neck. Art is central in Constellations: from the masks, costumes, the beautifully made urn and collection of metallic installations which the performers climb on and dance with.

Constellationsfeels slow at times, and the scene where two seemingly random people iron and check in with friends and cast members felt a little pretentious, but the performers can dance, sing and hold the stage, the action is often engaging and the artwork, the music, the aptly timed lighting and the performers all work in harmony.

The Fools Market, where the audience can view art, masks and costumes used in the show and meet the creators, is a nice touch because it shows equal respect to everyone involved in the show.

If you like straightforward shows with a plot and clear boundaries, Constellationsisn’t for you, but if you fancy joining in on a square dance, talking to other members of the audience and watching something truly unique, it is just what you’re looking for.

Runs until 8 June 2019 | Image: Contributed

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. 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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