State of Mind

Mon 8th – Thu 18th August 2011

reviews

Ellen Marsh

at 18:14 on 13th Aug 2011

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This physical theatre/dance piece by Z Theatre Company from Hull University is inspired by an Albert Einstein quotation: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Throughout the piece the 6 performers frequently perform the same movements as each other, but with their own individual approach, demonstrating this potential for “different results”, while use of unison suggests the impossibility of these differences. Repetition is a key part of the movement here, something the performers build on in sequences punctuated by their counting. This works towards the introduction of Philip Glass’s ‘Einstein on the Beach’, which here is beautifully appropriate, and a truly wonderful combination of movement, music and subject.

There are some issues with the production. One is the lack of space offstage, made evident by the difficulty the performers have collecting chairs and bringing them on. Another is the editing of the music, which could be slicker, as there are a couple of moments where a cut isn’t quite in time with the ending of a ‘scene’. These are, however, minor issues, and are easily forgiven when the movement and ideas are so engaging.

A pet peeve of mine when watching dance is bad timing. There are moments where the performers are clearly meant to be doing the same movement at slightly different times, but there are also points where unison is required and the full effect of their movement is lost by off-timing. It was especially frustrating when the dancers were counting out loud, or the music provided a clear count, and the unison was still off. This is something that will no doubt improve as the run continues.

The performers combine well-executed movement with some great acting. Andy Yeomans in particular is excellent at communicating the various emotions and conditions required – his ‘State of Mind’. It is always a pleasure to see dancers or physical actors remember to use their faces in performance as they do here. Yeomans is also the most forceful and convincing in his movement – he is completely committed to everything he does on stage. If all members of the company had this total commitment, and the timing was spot on, State of Mind would get 5 stars from me.

It is refreshing that this production does not try hard to be edgy or wacky. The director Henry Zirpolo is clearly secure in the ideas he wants to express and does not feel the need to make his production outrageously weird in order to be wonderful. If you are a fan of dance and physical theatre, you must see this show, if you aren’t, give it a go anyway. Most definitely recommended.

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David Knowles

at 11:44 on 14th Aug 2011

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In the intimate space of the Radisson Hotel, Z Theatre Company present an enthralling theatrical depiction of insanity. Dressed in simple white costumes the cast explore the concept of losing one’s mind. This ranges from the banal, shown through endless repetitions of tiny movements, to the all over-encompassing effect of total psychosis (powerful and energetic modern dance).

The cast were all competent dancers and movers which lent a pleasing professional sheen to the show. Most of the time they moved as one and the movements were executed with unerring accuracy. Andy Yeomans in particular wowed the audience through his ability to be just as watchable still and brooding as manic.

The choice of music throughout the production was also inspired. The first few numbers were fairly standard ‘ambient’ tracks that allowed the production to gain pace and traction. The high point however was the inclusion of the Phillip Glass piece ‘Einstein on the Beach’ which perfectly reflected and encapsulated the play. An impressive choice that demonstrated perfectly the intelligence of the director.The accompanying dance was impressive, the cast climbing over a mountain of chairs to get to each other.

What I particularly liked about this production was its simplicity. It’s not as if the choice of costumes was particularly inspired for example, nor the subject matter. But Henry Zirpolo has managed to create something intimately watchable and enjoyable and avoid anything hackneyed or clichéd. The very first few moments of the play did send shivers down the spine as the white-clad chorus advanced in complete unison towards the audience.

Notwithstanding the few minor technical hiccups and moments where it was clear that certain actors were relying on others to remember their dances moves, State of Mind is an accomplished and polished physical theatre piece that is well worth a look.

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