Vicky Mateu’s Forgive But Don’t Forget is a piece that’s constantly pointing to itself. It begins with a song by Laurie Anderson, describing an audience waiting for curtain-up. But is that the beginning? Mateu turns to stand-up banter to explain what she plans for when the piece “actually” begins, adding in digressions (or are they?) on the existential paradoxes of performance, and making explicit her implicit sales pitch. She then shows us another side – literally, the other side of the stage – where she ditches the act (or does she?), and sways introspectively and at length to melancholy songs in French and Portuguese. Ironically, the piece is a little too clever and ironic to quite hit its mark.
Danza Creole’s Audaces Fortuna Juvat begins with the five dancers seated like statues on a table. One (Shelley-Ann Maxwell) twists away, writhing and reaching to an insistent rhythmic chant. The other four lift the table solemnly, like pall-bearers. The ritual, quasi-religious atmosphere gives way to a more gutsy energy, the dancers tumbling and vaulting over the table, and each other. A piece of cloth, passed between them, accrues some indefinable significance. Strip away the vitality and there’s not much underlying substance to the choreography; but it coasts on dynamism, and it’s hard not to be swept along.
Imagine a French, art-house ghost film, and you get a flavour of QUaRteT: all artifice and ambience, arty but stylish with it. The French comes on the soundtrack, a spooky collage of scratches, chimes and whines that mingle with eerie whispers and mutterings, in French. Verena Leo’s surrealist set features a table and a tumble of chairs suspended above it. Four diaphanously dressed dancers haunt the stage, slipping past each other like phantoms, wandering as fitfully as restless souls. The piece is overlong – there’s only so much ethereal impressionism you can take before needing some forward drive – but it’s skilfully choreographed, well danced, and for most of its length, uncannily gripping.