Revelations, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London <!-- none twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Watching Revelations, by the physical theatre company Stan Won't Dance, you can see the kind of show it wants to be: how dark, how sexy, how dangerous. It doesn't come close. This is 95 minutes of dancers trying very hard to be cool.

The company, founded in 2003, is led by Liam Steel and Rob Tannion, both long-standing members of Lloyd Newson's DV8. Their new work follows similar lines, mixing speech, movement and political themes, takingsideswipes at religion, war and global warming.

Steel, who conceived and directed the piece, appears as the leading devil figure. He preens and wheedles, addressing the audience directly, changing from one sleazy outfit to another. Michael Pavelka dresses Steel and his four assistant angels as fetish clichés - stockings for women, leather for men.

His set shows a kitchen, enclosed in a tilted box. Angels prowl on top, or crawl through the ceiling, hanging from struts or ropes. The best choreography is in the gymnastics, with dancers swinging across the overhead grid. They also mirror the humans' movements, pushing them into embraces or prompting their words. Steel keeps up a running commentary.

As the humans, Tannion and Raquel Meseguer give the best, most relaxed performances of the evening, but their chattering co-stars make it hard to concentrate on them.

Nigel Charnock's text, a mix of dialogue and comment, is consistently trite. Tempting Tannion into affairs, the angels keep telling him, "I'm you. And you know it." Steel says the same thing to the audience. We are supposed to recognise our darkest desires on stage, with suitable frisson. But - despite bondage and asphyxiation - Revelations can't give us real darkness.

Steel is so busy telling us about human frailty that the show has no time to dramatise it from within. Though there's a lot of onstage grappling, there's no sense of sexual need or betrayal.

There's something profoundly second-hand about Revelations. The visuals, all leather and angel wings, might have been copied from some old club fashion shoot. Stan Won't Dance strike big, bad attitudes, but there's nothing here to back them up.