views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Dust Never Settles In Torchlight
The Cockpit
16th August 2015


Publicity image for Dust Never Settles In Torchlight

Photography provided by NakedFeet Theatre

NakedFeet Physical Theatre describe Dust Never Settles in Torchlight as a reworking of Ovid's Metamorphoses, however given how long his epic is, they've only been able to scratch the surface of his works in this 50-minute performance. What they do bring us is the tragic story of Myrrha (Laurie Ogden), who falls in love with her own Father (Christopher Brown) much to the sadness of her Nurse (Cara Withers), who tries in vain to distract her from these incestuous desires with what are essentially fairytales. The Nurse relates how a whimsical and playful Echo (Alexa Farrow) became enamoured with Narcissus (Gabriel Jones) and how she had her heart broken by the self-obsessed hunter, and also how a female Pygmalion (Stella Kalides) was so unlucky in love she had to fashion her own man, Clay (Keith Bonnici), with a little help from a sympathetic Venus (Hannah Ashby Ward).

Directors Josie Underwood (who also performs in the ensemble) and Cordelia Stevenson have crafted something spectacular. Modern dance music and handheld lights combine for a striking, contemporary performance. Each dancer is dressed in their own colour, ranging from a bold turquoise to a fiery red. It's only the Nurse dressed in a drab grey, but as one of the help, she's not meant to stand out, even if she does have a crucial role in how Myrrha's doomed tale unfolds.

Shadows dance and flicker as the world of mythology comes alive for us, the pulsating dance music and pre-recorded voiceovers making the three intertwined narratives incredible easy to follow. We dip in and out of Echo and Pygmalion's stories, with the lighting design controlling the setting. There are some wonderful small touches in the choreography, such as Narcissus trying to touch his own reflection, and the initial animation of Clay, as Pygmalion struggles to make him act more human. The large movements and grand sequences involving most if not all the ensemble are stunning but sometimes it's these smaller details which really add power.

Myrrha links all three strands - when her Nurse narrates another part of one of the stories and the lights drop, we see her jump from her own life into this fantasy creation, darting around the sides of the set and even mirroring some of the movement, deeply curious about these tales of love and trying to join in. Ogden brings an innocence and playfulness to the role - even when Myrrha fights off her suitors to get to the king's bedchambers, it's a childlike desire to win we see in her expression rather than a more earthy lust. This reinforces the Nurse's guilt - Myrrha isn't old enough to understand her actions, and it's the Nurse's job to protect her. As she gazes upon her ill-fated charge, there's a deep-rooted regret in her eyes; she knows what is to happen and that like with Echo, there can be no happy ending. The emotional conflict that Withers brings helps establish the inherent tragedy of the production.

Dust Never Settles in Torchlight is a hugely accessible and beautiful piece. It draws on old tales, but uses new ideas to create something truly captivating, making use of a large and talented group of dancers.

Dust Never Settles In Torchlight ran on 16th August at The Cockpit, as part of the Camden Fringe. It runs from 23rd to 27th August 2015 at theSpace on Niddry St, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.

Nearest station: Marylebone (Bakerloo)

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