Founded in 2008 by Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen, RashDash are a new performance troupe that predominantly work in dance and physical theatre. Their website states that “sometimes words just can’t cut it, and when they don’t – we dance!” and so, sticking to their guns, Another Someone is filled with incredibly rich choreographed movement sequences that are full of passion and invention.
There are a handful of mesmeric dances dotted throughout the performance (with a particular highlight being the beautiful scene where a young woman skips through a colourful forest of ribbons) but the problem with Another Someone is that in between these wonderful moments, the audience have to endure a multitude of very stale spoken-word traditional theatre scenes.
The story (or such as it is) follows the relationships of three residents in adjacent flats. Jim and Alicia are the carefree, dumb, noisy neighbours and Holly is the blindly determined, uptight lawyer-to-be who just moved in next door and – surprise, surprise – they don’t get on. An ideology clash between the over-aspiring Holly and the unambitious Jim and Alicia is the play’s basic conflict and Holly’s predictable character arch is the one followed for most of the hour. With a story too simple to hold any real interest, the audience are left trying to engage with three frankly irritating characters, none of whom they can really believe in.
It’s a shame because when the lacklustre storyline and straightforward dialogue is disposed of, the physical theatre performed by the three really is fantastic to watch with the character relationships suddenly becoming much more interesting and powerful. This is RashDash’s fifth production and it seems characters and linear storylines are a bit of a new venture for the group, having previously conveyed all their narratives through dance alone. It’s always good to see a theatre company developing and trying new things but their storytelling skills feel in need of development. Their approach to dramatising the issues faced by their characters is so head-on that there is absolutely no room for audience interpretation or, therefore, intrigue. If only they could sprinkle some of the energy, verve and abstraction of their interpretive movements into their storytelling, they would have a much more balanced and enjoyable show.
There is one element of their spoken word scenes that really does work however and that is the ever-presence of the show’s narrator, Becky Wilkie. Sat behind a piano on the side of the stage, she is a constant source of comedy and honesty. Introduced early on as a mutual friend of the three characters, she is disarming, relaxed, warm and very friendly, providing a much needed human, and just plain likeable, element to proceedings. She narrates the action, describes times and settings and often gives the audience incites into characters’ real feelings onstage. She also has a devilish sense of humour and doesn’t hesitate in dropping jokes right into the middle of scenes, often contradicting the characters in the process: “It isn’t a lovely flat; it’s really, really messy and Holly thinks it smells of feet.”
Although she remains behind her piano throughout, Wilkie is not completely detached from the action and often chips in on conversations taking place onstage or cowers away from a character’s wrath. The music she plays live through the entire show is fantastic too (bringing to mind Regina Specktor), whether it’s providing a dramatic soundscape to a dance number, playing poignant notes to add tension or sorrow to a spoken scene or simply by singing a tune of her own for the audience, they are each beautiful songs performed with gusto, honesty and charm.
Another Someone has its moments but overall is an unbalanced watch. A final highlight however is their samba crescendo ending which, I have to say, meant I left the theatre with a definite spring in my step.