On one hand, the technically exquisite Cold Blood is a beautifully animated short story. On the other hand, it is a dramaturgically considered glimpse into the world of a working animation studio. On another hand, it is a musing on the value of liveness. On yet another hand it is an exemplary display of filmed special effects, edited as the action is constructed in the intriguingly lit shadows before us, then projected live onto a screen that covers the top half of the stage. There are a lot of hands involved in this show.
As well as operating cameras, lighting and modelbox set equipment, hands perform the unnamed characters of seven death scenes, which are tied together in the narrated tale of a waking dream. Each is puppet, dancer and actor in one – except for the times they morph into kaleidoscopic patterns against mesmerising backgrounds. As in Disney's Fantasia, the quality of the visuals is the major focus, storytelling taking second place, more as a linking device between scenes of noir, whimsy, Busby Berkeley-style spectacle or intimate peepshow choreography.
The show's originators, Jaco Van Dormael and Michèle Anne de Mey, have backgrounds in film-making and dance respectively. Their sterling team of onstage collborators blurs the traditional roles of cast and crew into one.
As from a dream, some images will linger, but most of Cold Blood will soon be forgotten. This show may not affect you very deeply but there's much to be said for the many moments of pure wonder the company provide.