Restriction can be liberating in this innovative show from Czech company VerTeDance

theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 13 Aug 2015

Toe-tapping, foot-stomping, two left feet; all the expressions we associate with dance are usually concentrated on a very specific part of the body. So what happens when we take those away? Not literally, fear not, there are no live amputations in this show from Czech company VerTeDance and live musicians Clarinet Factory. But—spoiler alert—the troupe has cleverly designed a stage floor that enables their shoes to be rooted to the ground for the whole duration.

It’s a concept you might think would give ten minutes of interest. But the imagination of the company in exploring this restriction is rich and vivid, full of humour and urban elegance.

They start like wobble-dolls, the kind that if you push gently come rocking to a halt. The game passes from person to person, but sometimes anomalies are thrown up in the wiring, allowing one person to be pushed and another to rock. Games give way to competition and then the path is paved for full-on battle. The lines of spite and play become blurred, with schadenfreude at others’ falling, and refusals to cooperate in bringing them back up.

But it’s not all rage and frustration. Restrict the feet and the rules of balance don’t apply – the result looks like something from a slow-motion movie action sequence, the group curiously experimenting with their new liberation.

It is a long show, and there are times when you feel they extend an idea beyond its welcome. But it’s a joy to watch, and you can pretty much guarantee there won’t be another dance piece quite like this at the Fringe.