No Lander @ The Place Dance Theatre Review

No Lander is a striking production presented by Riccardo Buscarini working in collaboration with The Place Theatre. It is an exploratory piece discovering a sense of longing and belonging, through the medium of dance. Both a tribute to the choreographer’s classical studies and a melancholic subtle meditation on the themes of Homer’s Odyssey, No Lander is a combination of the body meeting a broad theme. No Lander forms a discourse, evaluating the anthropological state and evolvement of human instincts.

No Lander

The performance features five dancers, all male and all befitted to represent heroes lost at sea who are later exposed to unrelenting space, nothing to hang onto, no roots, no light, and no land. This production alludes to an industrial space, stark lighting and eerie live captured sound recordings. The space is hollow; nothing is present except for the bodies which are representative vessels. As an audience member you feel claustrophobic, almost a logic of submergence. The lights, sounds and choreography emulate a sense of tension, of survival and emergence. Within the production there is a very interesting relationship between spectator and performer, almost reversed with the lighting on the audience and darkness present on stage.

As No Lander is a show about interaction, longing and belonging the atmosphere is tense, often awkward and overwrought. Within the production there is a connotation of a multitude of themes which include separation, journey, survival and battle. The movement featured within the production is often animalistic, longing for a sense of connection whilst also emphasising a sense of desperation, through coded visual imagery.

As a production, one has to evaluate the sense of watching a devised workshop, the performers in entirely black and there being little plot. I watch on from my seat with a sense of exclusivity having studied at a drama school, this setting seems all too realistic and familiar. I often find the choreography stimulating to watch, however, I feel that it is one human state sequence after another. As a production it is not coherent, there is no story and after the production it is revealed in the post-show talk that even the dancer’s have no sense of emotional connection or story.

It is stated that all direction towards the piece is directed physically, which is a fascinating methodology for devising but perhaps not the most efficient when creating a final performance. I believe that the production comes across as a set of exercises that are yet to be developed into a performance, there is no sense of connection except physical. The theme of belonging and longing are both extremely broad and this comes across within the piece. Although the choreography is appealing to watch, as an audience member I feel disconnected and often confused by the action before me.

The performers as a company are experimental, innovative and committed, but lack a sense of conversation and physical dialogue. It is extremely difficult to describe any sense of characterisation within the production, as none of the performers are titled and remain indefinable as individuals. Within the performance, they are human states of being; they are the facets of one character that is embarking on this exploratory journey to discover a sense of belonging. This as a concept and character construct often feels extremely alienating to the audience and would improve from some sense of identity.

This production is truly unique in design, concept and direction; it is a production to watch, analyse and interpret independently, it is so far removed from any assumptions. It is a production where the narrative is entirely physical; there is no emotional narrative which is a barrier as the production is exclusively interpretative. No Lander is both a creative and innovative concept; however it is not justifiably developed. I leave this production considering the development of this piece and how with the emergence of characters and the introduction of a plot it would be a much more connecting, relatable and altogether a more coherent production. 3/5

Review written by Meg Mattravers.

No Lander was shown at The Place theatre on Wednesday 28th October. For more information on Riccardo Buscarini, visit here…

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