The players look interesting as they walk on stage, one by one, at the beginning of Gary Carter's new ballet The Enigma of Sin. There is the woman in a black minidress, stockings and shoes; another in a long red frock with bare feet, and so on. But these, I have to tell you, are the musicians, five in all, and once they have taken their places in a big half circle they stay put. Sometimes, during the performance, I thought they had the best of it.
But back to the beginning. Before this piece there was a 20-minute work by Stephen Petronio called House of Magnet. This began and ended with the five dancers clumped together in a tight knot. Maybe that's where the magnetism came in, or perhaps in the heaviness of their individual kicking and stretching in between. Their costumes were all black, and so were the walls, so it all looked sombre. The recorded music by David Linton was largely a subdued quick thumping that could exert a soporific effect. The dances matched it well.
And so to the main piece, 50 minutes of enigmatic sin, less a ballet than a sort of desultory play with intermittent talking, mime and tableaux vivants. Anna Williams as the Supreme Being has the best role, once past the toe-curling embarrassment of her opening speech, all facetious puns and nonsenses, some of it addressed to her pal Mike (the archangel, performed with quiet equanimity by David Waring).
The other main character, named as Jesus, wears kneepants with a black jacket and bow tie, and spends a lot of time telling us that he knows he exists because he can hear our breathing and that of his family. As the text is not separately credited, I assume Gary Carter is responsible for that as well as the conception and direction he claims.
The musicians (who call themselves Asylum), meanwhile, are producing some attractive sounds, led by the composer Kathryn Locke on cello. And the dancers continue with their posing, speechifying, putting on masks, taking off costumes, lying down, being carried about, and general obfuscation. It's not so much a story, more a way of assembling a few disparate characters (or non-characters, such as Eve, who has virtually nothing to do). Since their company, Ricochet, is dancer-led, inviting whatever choreographers they choose for variety and interest, and Carter has worked with them before, I suppose that they knew what they were letting themselves in for.
The Enigma of Sin ends with Lucifer, having delivered God the Mother of a gold paper-chain, raising her arm and letting off a firework. I think it's what is called a damp squib.
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