Resolution 2018: Living Room Circus/ Retrospect Dance Theatre/ Jade Hackett

Retrospect Dance Theatre - In Light of Those You Love. Photo by Admil Kyler. Edited by Christopher Thomas

Living Room Circus The Penguin & I

Retrospect Dance Theatre In Light of Those You Love

Jade Hackett The Duke Joint

Although only a short extract from a full-length show, The Penguin & I managed to transport me into its surreal world of acrobatics and intriguing characters, with a light-hearted humour but never trivial. What looks like an ordinary man seated on a sofa in a living room is soon involved in a series of bizarre encounters. The set design is a real surprise, hands and arms magically appear from behind and below the couch revealing the presence of three strange characters. There’s even a penguin, in a role that I have not yet been able to identify, possibly an alter ego or simply an unsettling presence. Living Room Circus’ hypnotic balancing tricks and astounding physicality make The Penguin & I a remarkable piece.

Living Room Circus - The Penguin. Photo by Miriam Strong
Living Room Circus – The Penguin. Photo by Miriam Strong

In Light of Those You Love is an immersive theatrical experience, raw and real. Katherine (Hannah McGlashon) and Tom (Christopher Thomas), a couple going through a marriage crisis, fight and blame each other for being miserable until they get to the point of putting in doubt the definition of insanity. Combining spoken word and dance, the performance shifts between real life and dream. Their exceptional theatrical abilities effectively convey the ruthless drama, and the choreography, at times smooth and fluid but mainly made of energetic contact and tense entanglements, reflects the violence. Particularly suggestive is the use of lights, allowing dancers to play with light bulbs at their own pace.

Jade Hackett - The Duke Joint
Jade Hackett – The Duke Joint

Jade Hackett’s work takes on the theme of slavery from a different perspective, showing the strength and resilience of black culture, and investigating the idea of familial love that generated from it. The Duke Joint alternates moments of brutal drama with satirical theatre, all coloured with captivating hip hop moves. Some scenes are particularly strong, like when a slave in chains walks in or when all four of them are checked – mouth and genitals – before being sold. There’s a lot on stage, probably 20 minutes is not enough to grasp the whole depth of the piece. I would be really keen on watching the full-length show to delve deeper into the topic.

Reviewed at The Place‘s Resolution Festival on 17 February 2018