Jérôme Bel conjures stage magic with Candoco Dance Company

Jérôme Bel conjures stage magic with Candoco Dance Company

A 5 Star Review by Judith Mackrell, The Guardian
The chemistry of the cast and the unerring wit and humanity of the direction are irresistible. *****
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Whether he’s working with a soloist from the Paris Opera Ballet or with a bunch of schoolkids, Jérôme Bel has a unique talent for making people interesting. He can reveal a dancer’s personality through the most banal fragment of choreography. By some simple act of stage magic, he can conjure a world of human intimacy from the barest of means.

In The Show Must Go On, which has been restaged for the disabled and able-bodied dancers of Candoco, plus additional guests, Bel creates that world from a playlist of classic hits. The 21 performers line up to the Beatles’ Come Together, and as they stare out at us, we look back at them: the slender, bearded man with his elegant tattoos; the one-legged woman on crutches; the delicate blonde using a wheelchair; the guy with the cosy beer belly.

Candoco The Show Must Go On

When they begin to dance, their moves embody sweet and silly references to the accompanying songs. Into My Arms has them seeking out partners to embrace; the Titanic theme has them leaning ecstatically into an invisible wind; Ballerina Girl’ inspires them to become their own versions of a swan queen.

The Show Must Go On by Jérôme Bel, performed by Candoco Dance Company.

For each performer, the choreography is a different physical challenge: for some, it’s an obvious struggle, but their differences are swept aside in the collective uplift of emotion and association these deeply familiar songs inspire. Having seen this work before, I was unsure how it would move me a second time. But the chemistry of the Candoco cast and the unerring wit and humanity of Bel’s direction are irresistible. When the stage darkens for John Lennon’s Imagine and the audience gradually join in a soft, spontaneous singalong, it’s one of the most potent moments of theatre I’ve known.

The Show Must Go On will be performed at Nottingham Playhouse on Friday 17 & Saturday 18 April. Box office: 0115 947 4361.

Photography: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Originally written by Judith Mackrell and posted on www.theguardian.com on Monday 23 March 2015. See the original article here.

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