The Black-E in Great George Street, once known as the Blackie, now has a semi-sprung floor with underfloor heating, perfect for dance companies.
First to try it in an in-the-round performance was the Mark Bruce dance company with their new show, Love & War.
It’s a surreal production and even though the seven dancers are given the names of Greek gods, it’s a semi-abstract piece with a feel of a post-apocalyptic world in the manner of Mad Max.
Smoke swirls around the performance space as the characters are introduced one by one, a chap in a hat and suit with clownish make-up, two girls in black combat gear, a girl in a micro-mini dress, a chap with a white T-shirt, and so on. The 70 minutes running time encompasses numerous short scenes, solos, duets, ensembles, all performed with frightening energy and quirky choreography from Bruce which sometimes includes wiggling toes and waggling fingers.
The use of 17 different musical numbers from Schubert and Tom Waits to ultra modern symphonic gives each section a personality, from tender to hyper-active. But always there is a sense of menace.
From its curious opening, the work builds as more and more bizarre images and props are used: four strip-lights on the floor, dancers pulling against reins held by a masked man, a cheer leader with pom-poms, a telephone, and a man falling into a bath on wheels and attacked by a giant spider. The narrative may be confusing but there is no denying the sheer force of the dance as the stage is filled with whirling characters, one menacing with a gun, others rolling around the floor or simply moving frenetically.
The all-action performances showed off the new Black-E space to full advantage. Philip Key