Dance: Roll on the ground then lose the plot

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The Independent Culture
I WISH I could understand what it was about V-tol's latest production that had the audience roaring enthusiastically at Swindon (part of a tour that brings the company to London's South Bank Centre next week). Presumably it must have been the mixture of disparate elements, since none of them on their own would stand up to much scrutiny.

As an addict of crime fiction, I can say with some assurance that it could hardly have been the plot of And nothing but the truth that grabbed anyone. A more confused, motiveless, characterless murder story I have not come across for a long time, nor one in which the outcome was more obvious from the very start.

Tricking it out with a narrator who tries to imply philosophy and background does nothing to help. Gary Young's text manages to be equally platitudinous when aiming at colloquial obscenity or when echoing Shakespeare, and Kieron Jecchinis gabbles it with a singularly pointless fake American accent.

As for the dancing, V-tol seems, mercifully, to have given up the "gravity- defying" style that is still touted in the publicity. Instead, there is much rolling on the ground, a lot of scurrying in and out through doors, some portentous staring and glaring, and an occasional hop, skip or a jump.

The one element that marks the show out is Mark Murphy's mixing, as artistic director, of filmed and live action. The cinematographic bits are not actually any more distinguished than the rest (don't hold your breath for the Oscar nominations), but he has a clever ingenuity in putting it all together, from the horrendous screams on screen at the beginning to the times when you can scarcely be sure which are live performers and which are their filmed images.

Miranda Melville's setting neatly gives Murphy excellent scope for his trickery: two separate rooms at the back of the stage for multiple entrances and exits, a screen to hide them when wanted, a stage in the foreground and an upper area, with the performers switching quickly from one to another.

I could not quite see that the dash of cross-dressing and same-sex flirting added anything to the whole, but perhaps that is thought to be obligatory nowadays, especially if trying to spice up a rather indigestible curry of a show.

Oh, I was forgetting to mention the music - perhaps because Nathaniel Reed's score is as serviceable and unmemorable as most film accompaniments. Like the choreography, the acting, the would-be drama and even the ingenious film-making, it would not really pass muster without multiple distractions. There must be a moral here somewhere. Maybe it is that if you cannot do anything very well, do enough things at once and maybe people will not notice.