Verosimile, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

You could think the performers would get giddy with so much walking in circles. Sometimes they march single file in a little group, sometimes they are spread around the stage. At moments one or other will stand still while the rest pass behind or in front of him until another takes his place while he rejoins the rotatory prowling. Now and again they march off behind a large screen at the back of the stage, soon to return severally or together.

Or they may divide into small clusters spread across the stage, and at times one will remain when the rest depart, or return alone for a while to the empty space. The stage area, I should mention, has been enlivened by rolls of cloth in various colours spread across it, although the performers, men and women, are dressed almost alike in simple white shift dresses, differing only in length of sleeve.

For variety, a couple of them sometimes put on golden frocks, and these two - a man and a woman - each get dressed up by others with strange disguises. Moreover, the lighting (conceived by Simon Siegmann) varies a good deal in intensity and in the shape or area illuminated. These lighting effects are seen as being important enough to have the stage to themselves once or twice.

As for Thomas Hauert's production, realised according to his patternings but with contributions by his four fellow performers, I kept looking for clues to significance. At first I noticed a preference for progressing widdershins, but then clockwise travel joined in. I was working on a theory that Hauert differentiated male and female by giving only the latter positions where they displayed their knickers, but that distinction didn't last.

I wondered whether the cast were chosen for their vacuous appearance, or if they had to work hard at achieving this; an indication either way might be drawn from the half-smiles that some gave during the curtain calls (vociferous, as they always are in this house).

A touch of comedy was introduced when the dancers bent their bodies or strutted with a waddling step, vaguely reminiscent of animals. I guess that some intended meaning lay behind the singing; two of the dancers gave vocal solos, one of them not very well, and all joined in the finale. They are credited with writing their own lyrics, and with collaborating on the songs with Bart Aga, who composed the unmemorable score. A piano aria from Bach's Goldberg Variations came as a welcome relief on its two appearances, although what its connection was to the rest of the work I cannot imagine.

The title, Verosimile, didn't help much: what was supposed to be looking like which? Does the piece tell us anything about life? Only that if you give performers disjointed, capriciously twisted movements they are going to look weird and make us stare at them. Well, Hauert (Swiss, but based in Brussels) calls his company Zoo, so perhaps that's the whole point.

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