Unstuffed shirts, you might call them: an array of variously coloured, buttoned and collared shirts like sculpted shells that once fit some body, but are now hollow. Choreographer Ellen Johansson pushes them round the stage as dutifully as if raking leaves on a lawn, but her piece Tuula is anything but workaday. In a series of solos, she and three dancers fill those shirts not with people or material, but with our imaginings. Chiara Corbetta carries one upon her shoulder like a constant companion. Jack Sergison lies down between two of them, to a conversational soundtrack of French woodsmen, the shirts becoming more fully fleshed characters than he. Karl Fagerlund Brekke holds two shirts aloft like lanterns, glowing with souls that we cannot see. The work is still a little rough-hewn, but it’s oddly enchanting.
There’s a kind of enchantment, too – dry, droll, deadpan – in Jayne Port’s Pibroch Tales, featuring kilted Gordon Douglas Raeburn as both compere and performer. In ‘Lament of Red Hector’ he acts out banal scenes – going fishing, bickering with his wife, feeling hungry – to the Pythonesque parps and squawks of a bagpipe. ‘MacCrimmon Will Never Return’ is his story of two guys hunting a deer, acted out as literally as a game of charades. Towards the end, the disparate elements of speech and song, comedy and seriousness, plain mime and shufflebum dancing begin to meld together in clever patterns; frustratingly, they don’t quite gel.
A naked man wearing a goat’s head sits on a chair reading a paper, faintly exasperated by two clothed women who flail and flop and canter and roll over – almost as if they were the beasts, not him. Emmeline Creswell’s GOATSONG! hinges on this ambivalence between the human and animal. Several moments are very well placed – the women eating the potplants, for example (scenery-chewing, much?) – but while the piece is strong on surreal imagery, it’s scrappy with its choreography and dramaturgy.