The Generating Company works with a fusion of circus, dance and performance, and produces both public shows and corporate events. Its latest piece is designed for the theatre but has a curiously corporate feel: sleek performers, an industrial set, upbeat technological music, and a programme note that sounds like management speak.
a curiously corporate feel: sleek performers, an industrial set, upbeat technological music, and a programme note that sounds like management speak
Directed by Abigail Yeates, Lactic Acid is an uneasy mesh of spectacle and theatre. Vietnamese duo Le Tran Van Anh and Huynh Thanh have the strongest scene, Anh stalking her partner like a panther before hurtling into astonishing lifts and throws. She loops in an angled cartwheel across his body, or flips through the air to land in a sky-high handstand on his upstretched arms, imparting visceral tension to a combative duet.
A section with Ruth Joyal spinning endlessly on a suspended hoop is visually striking, Joyal’s elastic body spiralling and twisting above the stiff, floor-bound rolls of the other performers. But it is a one-idea number, and its interest doesn’t sustain its length – a problem with several other scenes. By contrast, a promising moment with the performers at the wings repeatedly breaking for the centre feels too short.
Biomolecular structures, blood flow and nervous function were the inspiration behind Lactic Acid, which may explain the twitchy choreographic chains, the cell-like symmetry of its phrases, the slow pulse of the lighting. Kati Yla-Hokkala fiddles with six balls before juggling them, and the show’s ending hints that, like the balls, the ideas and the performers themselves have simply been thrown into the mix, with Lactic Acid the bitty result.
Parts of the set work well – ropes dangling like fishing lines, parallel bars showing off Evgeny Nikolaev’s daredevil swoops between them – but the huge arc of metallic panels are an instrusive designer accessory. Mira Calix’s score, a mash of commercial beats with arty electronica, is annoying as hell.