" /> Dance: Compagnie Philippe Genty, Royal Festival Hall, London<img src="http://www.independent.co.uk/template/ver/gfx/threestar.gif"></img > - Reviews - Theatre & Dance - The Independent

Dance: Compagnie Philippe Genty, Royal Festival Hall, London

La Fin des Terres is the latest work from the celebrated illusionist Philippe Genty. The illusions are of all kinds, beautifully staged and lit. People and objects vanish or reappear. Performers seem to switch bodies, one person becoming another on stage. Alongside the marvels there are cutesy poses, smiles so fixed that dancers' cheeks must ache. The execution is superb, but I could do without the whimsy.

La Fin des Terres, conceived and directed by Genty and his long-term collaborator Mary Underwood, is a theme-and-variations work. The central idea is a meeting, with a couple brought together by a letter. We see letters posted, letters vanishing, a woman using paper as stepping-stones, paper becoming masks for the couple.

The lighting, by Genty and Emmanuel Laborde, suggests pale dawn skies or rosy sunsets. Billowing plastic bags become giant bubbles or seas. Sliding panels sneak actors on and off, suggest moving trains, put a frame around incidents.

Some scenes are much weaker than others. The woman is pushed about by a couple (her parents?) who have particularly bright grins. They keep shoving her into plastic chests, her face and limbs appearing in or around the edges of the drawers. The idea soon wears thin, while the performing style is tiresome: slick, clipped, airless.

Genty's may go for saccharine mannerisms, but his performers' technique is extraordinary. The central man and woman are played by four people. Sometimes they switch roles mid-scene, yet you only see two people on stage. The woman walks around the man, reappearing with a different face and body.

Careful choreography hides the trap doors, the concealed exits. Flurries of action draw your eye away from substitutions. Even knowing that didn't break the illusion. Transitions are so fluent, you see only what Genty wants you to see.

In the best scene, a woman dances with an insect lover, a puppet with a human face, frail legs and twitching beetle body. The whole creature is unsettling and brilliant. Plumed wings flap, there's an aggressive buzzing. Its body ends in a phallic curl, a tail thrusting forward between its legs.

Here, there's a dreamy absorption, the dancers seeming lost in their own world. Genty can be arch or knowing, but he does create distinctive images.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas