By: Cathryn Macey, TRP Reviewer
November. It’s wet, the nights are long and your to do list in the run up to Christmas is getting bigger and bigger. If there was ever a time to escape to an enchanted forest and immerse yourself in folklore, it would be now….
LORE is as reviving as that expensive spa break you’d love to take but probably don’t have the time to. Based on folklore, this intense performance taps into the current shared interest in nature and the ancient stories that lie within the land. James Wilton Dance undoubtedly create a very spiritual experience from start to finish; it makes me want to lob my phone and laptop in the bin and live completely off grid!
The show is dance based and there’s no dialogue – unless you count the exasperated pants that come from its two-star dancers as they frantically merge and morph into various shapes and stances. Sarah Jane Taylor and James Wilton are the main choreographers and performers tonight. The narrative they follow is loosely based on stories about Gods and deities from all around the world as well as the beasts and the snakes that lurk in the undergrowth. However, no prior knowledge of myths and legends is needed.
James and Sarah’s vision is for the audience to imprint their own ideas on to the story themselves. So, you might recognise aspects of famous myths like Medusa and The Minotaur or you might not…it doesn’t matter. This laid-back version of storytelling absolutely complements the chilled out and free flowing atmosphere of the show.
It starts with a cleansing ceremony. Sarah appears looking a bit like Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. With tightly woven plaits and the ability to strike strong warrior poses, she is the embodiment of female power and energy. Making the most of a naturalistic set adorned with trees and against a soundtrack of heavy rain, she immerses herself in the healing powers of water whilst contorting her strong and toned body into a myriad of complex shapes. These include one move in which she spreads her arms as far apart as possible above her petite head. She reminds me of a wild eagle here on the cusp of taking flight.
James and Sarah’s forte for creating animalistic imagery with their bodies (both individually and combined) is a highlight. Another highlight is James Wilton’s (assisted by Joshua Tomalin) lighting design. We’re not sure if Sarah and James are lovers or enemies in some scenes (they’re actually married in real life) as they writhe around The Drum’s stage seemingly in search of reconciliation.
It feels like the battle of the sexes; man versus woman. Sometimes James and Sarah wrap themselves tenderly around each other before then dramatically pushing away from one another. Blacking the stage out between each sequence and move in this section of the show means we are forced to keep guessing. When the lights come up, will they be intertwined like lovers or physically restraining each other like rivals in a wrestling competition? Such clever lighting here ramps up the tension to excruciatingly high levels!
Music is used throughout to add to the Celtic elements of LORE. It’s used in an original way which sits well with the innovative style of the show. Some parts are gentle and traditional and feature soothing string instruments. In the more extreme dance sequences, a pulsating Celtic drum thumps out a pagan sounding rhythm. We’re all enthralled.
LORE is a rare mix of art, dance, music and mythology. Fans of dance in particular will not want to miss out!
LORE is on at The Drum until Saturday 18 November.