Monday 4 August 2014

Dirty Decadence – C Nova

[seen 04/08/14]

We were somewhere around Barnes when the drugs began to take hold

Dirty Decadence is a piece of dance theatre “Inspired by Laura Wade’s Posh” (Fringe Programme, p.182). And, well, I was intrigued...

The first thing to say about the company, Theatre with Teeth, is that they are young. Very, very young. Possibly university age, but I’d be surprised. They’re all clear skin, springy flesh, and bits of blurb that say: “Think Matthew Bourne on LSD.”

Apparently, in Matthew Bourne’s trip, he’s stuck in a tiny room in Edinburgh, tasked with making a dance version of a two- or three-hour-long play having only seen the hideous trailer for the disastrous-looking film.

Luckily for Matthew, the seven-strong company of adolescents he’s been given to work with seem like talented enough dancers. Of course the room is still a problem for him. Its walls look like they’re made of black curtains, which are forever threatening to swallow him up. Because it’s so small the moves his dancers can perform are necessarily quite timid.

Nevertheless, despite his acid-addled state, he soldiers on. The company he’s been given to work with are four girls and three boys. This puts a pretty big hole in trying to adapt Posh, since the whole point of it is that they’re all blokes (apart from the the waitress and, was there a prostitute?), and it’s a play about white male privilege. One of these blokes isn’t even white. “Ok, let’s just say ‘inspired by’, then,” Matthew breathes, hoping that he’s only imagining the spiders.

The company get to work, and, to be fair, they’re adept enough at dancing. In his head, the hapless Bourne can only hear classical music backed with old Portishead beats, and some dubious early 90s synth music made by me and my mates when I’d just bought a drum machine and we were all quite into the Sisterhood. “It’ll have to do,” he softly moans to no one real.

Meanwhile, the group seem to have worked out some sort of replacement story without Bourne’s help. It basically revolves around six poshos having teenage relationship issues. One of the girls is a bit too snobby to be paired up with the mixed-race guy, but that’s just her good luck, since he’s carrying on with one of the other blokes, while the last bloke is more interested in making a pas de deux at the waitress (who here, contra Wade, seems pretty into it; rolling around on the shiny table and touching herself suggestively). In the end, one of the girls stabs the waitress and they all get away with it. The final scene sees them all sitting round in another restaurant having got away with it.

Bourne sits with his head in his hands. I should never have taken this LSD, he thinks to himself.

No, but seriously: I don’t see much not-contemporary dance, so seeing people mostly doing ballet-inspired dance is interesting. It feels a bit like it comes from a parallel world where Pina Bausch never happened, and feels pretty old-fashioned. The company, as I say, are very young, and I don’t think it’s wrong to say that they should be given a lot of credit for an imaginative thing to attempt. I think C Venues logistics work against them, but they’ve come up with a credible and committed piece of storytelling, and I hope they stick together as a company and adapt some more plays.

Actually, I already totally want to see their dance Punk Rock next year...

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