Refugees of the Septic Heart at the Laban
The combination of our human, instinctive nature meeting urbanisation is strongly presented in this production by the Tom Dale Company. The stage had been intricately decorated: steps at the back formed a cyclical shape that initially represented the sun, while screens above feature projections throughout the performance. In the apocalyptic opening, a lone man dances before the light before standing in awe of it. He then journeys into the ensemble, as it storms the stage as city workers. It’s very evolutionary and environmentally charged.
There was a moment between the two female performers, Maria Olga Palliani and Ariadna Girones Mata, which was particularly insightful. The pair embrace, and one is carried like an infant through the ensemble, a mess of city livers exploring the space, all desperately seeking the end of their journey. The scene homed in on our desire for comfort, our infant tendencies when under pressure and the possibility of stepping backwards in our development as the materialistic world consumes us.
The piece relied heavily on projection (exquisitely designed and executed by digital media artist, Barret Hodgson), which would sometimes detract attention from what the performers were doing. All bodies were similarly free and energetically matched, making for a collaboratively strong cast. However, sections performed in unison (either as a group or duo/trio) were messy in timing – someone always seemed to be half a second quicker than the rest. However, there seemed to be no distinction between what was free and what was precision, and no clear balance between the scenes, which appeared to be divided into three stages.
Due to the technical weight of the production and the use of darkness and light, there were moments where it would have been beneficial to see more of the ensemble’s faces. This would have assisted the audience in connecting on the human level, the level of understanding that they express so cleverly with their bodies.
Evocative new compositions from Shakleton and collaborator Vengeance Tenfold, as well as music by Fennesz, supported the strong statements used throughout the journey: “Where were you? You’re nothing but a nothing.” The ensemble also explored this feeling of loss and our purpose in society as individuals. The piece isn’t designed to answer or suggest, instead, it’s explorative and inquisitive, succeeding in its job of evoking awareness and making its audience think, all within a quick hour.
Photo: Tom Dale Company
Refugees of the Septic Heart is at the Laban Theatre until 20th April 2013. For further information visit the theatre’s website here.