To mark the move of London’s Print Room theatre into the Notting Hill Coronet (currently still being refurbished), artistic associate Hubert Essakow has programmed a portmanteau evening of choreography entitled simply 1898 – the year the Coronet opened.
an unexplained and faintly sapphic presence in their liaison
Essakow’s own Adieu is an impressionistic invocation of Sarah Bernhardt, set to Satie and Debussy. Played like a portrait come to life by veteran dancer Naomi Sorkin in floating, watercolour robes, Bernhardt is as much figment as figure, an unexplained and faintly sapphic presence in the liaison between white-clad Cree Barnett Williams and David Ledger. An enticing if tantalisingly ungraspable piece, Adieu shows Essakow revisiting the suggestive themes of last year’s Ignis: age, triangular relationships, fantasy, memory.
In Absinthe, Kirill Burlov fights the demon drink, and loses. That’s the story, and though somewhat overstretched, its embodiment is gripping. Burlov jumps and scrabbles on the spot, as if failing to outrun his own shadow on the wall behind him. Rob McNeil enters as the shadow’s incarnation, first echoing, then battling and finally driving Burlov’s dives and flails. Platon Buravicky’s soundscore of tics and throbs adds to the paranoid, hungover ambience.
Tamarin Stott’s Scene to Be Seen is an attempt to capture the precarious social experience of a woman of the fin-de-siècle who might attend the theatre. Collage is piled upon collage: music-box melodies mix with the national anthem and radio documentaries; cameos of Stott looking decorous with partner Nathan Young are cut with jacket-swapping, promenades; blocked kisses, dropped shoulder-straps and lots of steps. It is, quite simply, too much to handle.
Black skin, white painted face, cherry lips, crimson kimono, elasticated nappy – Mbulelo Ndabeni cuts an arresting and clearly highly constructed figure of Afro-Oriental exoticism in his duet Beholder of Beauty. And the entrance of 21st-century girl Piedad Albarracin Seiquer in sportswear, their slow-dancing, their chases and tussles, her skips, his shuffles, the film of a flower unfolding, all make you think: yes, but why?