Friday, 7 December 2012

Echoa - review

Written by: Daisy Thurston-Gent 

LOST Theatre, London

Following a highly acclaimed international run, Compagnie Arcosm return to London’s LOST Theatre for another crack at their multi-disciplined triumph ‘Echoa’. A previous success at Sadler’s Wells, this fascinating show is beginning to prove that dancing is something we now need our ears for.

Commencing a 2 week residence at LOST, Echoa is somewhat of a hidden gem, grasping the attention of children and adults alike. Regardless of your familiarity with dance, Echoa challenges any preconceptions; offering an insight into how percussionists, dancers, and entertainers can work in unison to ignite something spectacular. Dance and percussion work effortlessly in tandem throughout, offering stunning visual displays punctuated by bubbling audio highlights that resonate even after leaving the auditorium. The rich, sonorous accompaniment elevates the piece into a form of theatre you feel proud to be in the presence of.

Photo: Anph Nguyen
Although family orientated, the show is not solely aimed at children, it begins in an almost sinister fashion, with low percussion chimes accompanying a montage sequence in which the performers scratch and hit back at their confined surroundings. This experimental playfulness expands as the show continues and the performers become increasingly likeable with every motion. The performers can’t be defined simplistically as ‘dancer’, ‘drummer’, ‘comedian’ or ‘percussionist’ but rather as true all-round natural entertainers. Their movements are excitable, crafted like a child at play. They are mesmerised by each other and, when not climbing the walls like insects, are motionless and attentive to the actions of their fellows. They seem curious about their bodies and often grin at the audience when they discover something new; an intriguing sound or movement previously unseen. They realise the potential of the body as a functioning whole, yet highlight the imaginative details of each limb, each finger, and each toe. There’s a charm to the performers as they crane their necks to check if you’re catching everything, though we would need to watch the show in slow motion to fully appreciate the craft behind these superb physical executions.

While certainly living up to the hype, Echoa offers something different and it’s best not to expect too much of any one artistic form during the show. When you’re lulled into a comfortable knowledge of what is happening, you’ll notice something surprising and suddenly the action changes and the piece transforms. Compagnie Arcosm has balanced the show perfectly, seamlessly shifting between ‘acts’. You’ll be watching a dance ‘routine’ and all of a sudden they’re laughing and propelling each other’s hands into drums. Each section looks to be happening by as if by accident, following smoothly on from the previous. A startlingly raw, competitive drum sequence can transform into a beautiful contemporary dance in a matter of seconds. The performers leap with effortless grace - each step is deliberate, down to the decision whether or not to make an echo when they land. They bounce off each other, colliding happily in their dizzy states as if inside a can of shaken lemonade. 

Photo: Cie Arcosm         
So if you’re looking for an intensely engaging experience that offers you something new this season, then Echoa comes highly recommended. This is something that echoes with any age, in any country. You will feel a spring in your step as you leave the theatre and your ears will be acutely tuned for word of Compagnie Arcosm’s next production. 

This production runs until 16 December 2012

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