Love and War, The Place, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Mark Bruce's Love and War throws icons together: Zeus and Aphrodite, rock stars and cheerleaders. Both sides get muddled. Though Bruce aims to give old legends new trappings, he fails to tell the story.

In Love and War, the ancient and modern myths are decorative but rootless.

The theatre is set up in the round, with the audience on four sides. It makes a surprisingly big, well-focused dance space. Love and War starts atmospherically, with a down-at-heel fairground mood. In Marian Bruce's stage design, tattered bunting hangs overhead. Cicadas chirp on the soundtrack. Greig Cooke's Zeus could be a magician or a circus barker, dressed in a shabby suit with trilby and made-up face. There's a deliberate clash of now and then: music from Queens of the Stone Age and Schubert, gods and heroes in party dresses and 1950s leather jackets.

The idea is fun, but the production is aimlessly hard to follow. I'm guessing that that opening solo was Zeus. It's never really clear who the different characters are, or what their relationships are to each other. The cheerleader was tied up, like a sacrifice, so she was probably Iphigenia.

Bruce's choice of music is full of deliberate contrasts, but they're surprisingly undramatic. Dancers pose to declamatory lines by rock band Sparklehorse, but the result is oddly static. This show has lots of statements but surprisingly little action. The poses lack momentum; they don't join up, as drama or as dance.

The dancers make the most of this material. There's some face-pulling – not surprising, given that they have big emotions to express and not much specific to express it with. But they move boldly, and seize on Bruce's best images with glee. Joanne Fong stands out as a raging Cassandra, curling in on herself and pushing fiercely outwards.

Touring to 9 July (markbrucecompany.com)

Comments