Dance: Unspoken; The Place Theatre, London
Friday 15 March 1996
Hulls, whose lighting for Laurie Booth has shaped and characterised Booth's stage world as pertinently as the choreographer's self-styled physical language, now extends his customary clarity of vision and incisive brilliance to a collaboration with Russell Maliphant as part of this year's Spring Loaded season at The Place. Similarly, the lighting designs by Mike Toon and Ollie Brown for, respectively, Ben Craft's Thought-Station and Barb register as a fundamental and guiding aspect of the construction of those works.
Maliphant's Unspoken, a duet for the choreographer and James De Maria, takes place in the eerie, subterranean environment Hulls is so adept at creating and within which Maliphant seems able to delve into the darkest recesses of his soul. Lurking in the shadow mists of Hulls's terra incognita, or contained within its large rectangles of glowing white light, Maliphant and De Maria are, alternately, nebulous, spectre-like figures and men doing battle with internal demons or even multiple personalities. The dancers repeatedly sculpt and etch fragments of half-recovered memories. Dispossessing themselves of movement, they become ever more caught up in its ineluctable momentum.
In a rivetingly seamless flow of action, De Maria repeatedly falls and catches himself, as though adjusting to the god-forsaken place which, you imagine, claimed him long ago. Maliphant, standing alone in the black chasm, flinches from invisible terrors and snatches at the darkness. Then, in the grip of a past life, he begins to embroider his movement with baroque flourishes. Midway, Andy Cowton's soundscape - a blend of industrial and cosmic noise, static interference and poignant touchnotes - builds to a frightening crescendo, roaring like a massive waterfall: Maliphant responds with an equal increase of force and urgency.
Calm follows the storm - we see the two men ghosting each other in a mystic sequence of curving arm gestures and spiralling back-bends wherein Hulls highlights anatomical form, the articulation of muscle groups and the skin's very surface to luminous effect. Together, Maliphant and De Maria operate in ravishing symbiosis, as do the dance, sound and lighting elements that form this charged and enigmatic work.
n `Spring Loaded' season ends 11 May. Bookings: 0171-387 0031
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