This show by the Vincent Dance Theatre is a visual feast set with monochromatic black and white working with and against each other under a harsh spotlight which palces the audience in the performers view as well as vice versa. It also contains many flashes of brilliance, intensity and wonder but at over two hours long there are some moments which could have been edited to make it a far punchier effort; it could easily lose fifteen minutes with little disruption to the flow and possibly half an hour would give it more edge. These are minor gripes however and all in all it was a stunning and involving piece of work.
Opening innocuously enough with each of the ten performers strolling onto the stage and visually identifying themselves in the manner of a M&S ad campaign there was no clue as to what was to follow over the next two and a bit hours. It started off with a sense of distilled ethereal calm and metamorphosed in an organic fashion into at various points chilled out ambience, frantic rock outbursts, a celebration of life and nature, raucous sexual abandon, a slow motion fighting sequence with every simple movement and sound having the profoundest effect whilst always remaining visually arresting. Hell even Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ and Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted to Love’ video got this troupe’s original take on them.
The bits which didn’t really work for me were the rolling around in the dirt –a bit too hippy for my tastes- and the recurring scene involving throwing red wine at the wall to signify dripping blood. These two were both used as linking themes but after the third-or was it the fourth- time I simply found myself thinking ‘Oh, not again please’.
Despite this ‘Motherland’ is a totally original, brave, uncompromising, unapologetic and worthwhile theatre experience for those who like the experimental side of things. Others may find it overblown and pretentious but I personally loved it. At the denouement the bright white set was in a total state of disarray as were the performers and this is always the sign of a good night out!
Motherland is on at 12pm at Summerhall until August 31st