In pop culture black bodies shimmy and shake, twerk and twist. Pelvises tilt and bottoms thrust. Not in Mele Broomes’ Grin (Summerhall on demand), the second of two pieces presented digitally by Broomes at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
In Grin bodies glitter and glow with a quiet inner strength. In an opening sequence it takes time for the eyes to adjust to just what it is that we are watching. What follows is a series of textured interludes in which performers Divine Tasinda and Kemono L. Riot move –together and apart—to create a bold hypnotic experience that sometimes comes with explosive weapons grade movement and at others is quietly reflective as if the dancers are lost inside themselves.
This is beautiful stuff, exquisitely filmed (which is not what you can say about a lot of the digital stuff available), lit with love by Michaella Fee and infused with power and generosity. It is suggested that you view Grin in a darkened room and that certainly pays off. But in any circumstances, it is illuminating in many different ways.
O’DD (Assembly Showcatcher) is the latest from fine Finnish circus company, Race Horse and it has balls in more ways than one. It also has some exceptionally innovative uses for cling film. Inspired by sci-fi, Rauli Dahlberg’s solo sees him emerge naked from a wall of cling film, balance balls on his head like a seal and bounce on a trampoline as sheets billow beneath him like clouds.
All circus, to a greater or lesser extent, plays with and tries to defy the laws of gravity (dancers hug the floor; circus performers are constantly finding new ways to leave it behind, perhaps a bit like astronauts) and that is the case here too. But probably the most sci-fi thing about O’DD is Miro Mantere’s looping futuristic sound. Although a couple of large Swiss balls do seem to have strange green eyes.
But overall, it’s a piece which, while always inventive and sometimes jaw dropping, is hard to read for meaning and which in a digital format outstays its welcome. It impresses rather than delights.
Twisted Tales Goes to the Fringe
In entirely different vein comes Twisted Tales Goes to the Fringe (Pleasance Online ) from young Cornish company 'Owdyado. Very much operating in Twilight Zone and Roald Dahl territory, this is nasty but nicely comic entertainment delivered in poor theatre style.
It’s not going to change your life, but its artfully entertaining stuff with sketches ranging from the supermarket checkout worker who can divine what a person is really like and might do from the contents of their basket, to a meeting in a moorland stone circle on Hogmanay. My personal favourite features two women apparently making funeral arrangements. But in 'Owdyado’s twisted world, nothing is ever what it seems.