|"An astonishing confluence. Highly recommended."|
by Avril Silk for remotegoat on 05/10/16
James Wilton Dance Company is touring the remarkable ‘Leviathan’, based on Harold Melville’s classic ‘Moby Dick’, and the response has been justifiably enthusiastic. Tonight I watched the performance at Taunton’s Brewhouse Theatre and felt privileged to witness such talent. The world-class dancers – Sarah Jane Taylor; James Wilton; Lisard Tranis; Roger Fernandez Cifuentes, Harlan Rust and Samuel Baxter, supported by apprentices Hannah Ekholm and Francesco Migliaccio – were a revelation. Usually I explore the eloquence of words; tonight I surrendered to the eloquence of the body, marvelling at the strength, power and beauty of dance.
As the obsessed and doomed Captain Ahab, James Wilton was exceptional; his desire for revenge on the great sea creature that sank his boat and destroyed his leg; his religious fervour; his ability to compel his crew to follow him were conveyed with all-consuming passion and intensity, tempered with profound reservoirs of stillness and restraint. The complexity of his performance enabled us to glimpse implacable hatred transformed by the majestic beauty of Sarah Jane Taylor’s whale into something approaching reverence and awe. Yet, however beautiful the prey, the hunter still seeks to dominate and destroy, harnessing and exploiting the natural world in the name of wealth and progress.
The sheer variety of dance on offer was electrifying. Athletic dance, martial arts, capoeira and partner-work ensured complete concentration from the audience. The subjugating of the crew by Captain Ahab was full on, and the piece played with linked hands that showed us the crew succumbing to Ahab’s forceful personality, was audacious and exuberant.
Excellent lighting by Alan Dawson and simple, uncluttered costumes by Vibeke Andersen served the dancers well. A row of lights close to the ground caused the stage to shimmer like the sea. The use of thick, nautical ropes to create nets was masterful. The powerful electro-rock soundtrack by Lunatic Soul evoked the majesty of the sea as well as the anguish of the soul - a throbbing pulse moving restlessly between storm and calm.
Great theatre has moments that stay with you forever. The memory of the second half of the evening, with the company dancing as the whale, sometimes gently rolling with the swell, or riding the sea with breath-taking leaps, or twisting and turning in desperate attempts to evade capture, will always remain with me.
A special commendation to the young members of Take Art’s Somerset Youth Dance Company for their curtain raiser. To engage with young performers in such an inspirational way is another impressive legacy from choreographer James Wilton and his exceptional troupe.
‘Leviathan’ continues to tour during October and November. Having never read ‘Moby Dick’, and knowing less than nothing about dance, I nevertheless responded at a profound level to the high quality of the original story, the wonderful dancers, the emotional truths and the very good soundtrack. An astonishing confluence. I hope this review encourages you to catch the show as it tours. I commend it highly.
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