Reviews Performance Published 29 June 2012


Jackson's Lane Theatre ⋄ 26th June 2012

Shining a light.

Zakia Uddin

This gentle production manages to bring together strands of dance, participatory performance, storytelling and shadow play in an evening which is subtly affecting. Yael Karavan’s international group of performers specialise in creating site-specific, delicate performances which engage with audiences in oblique, startling ways, without trumping them. Anima builds on an earlier production called A Light Through The Night, which saw the troupe leading audiences on a night-time journey only using lights.

The performance opens with the audience being directed outdoors, where dancer Marion Deprez barters matches for goods from the audience. The crowd engage easily with her, eventually handing over items such as bike lock keys and smartphones. We then navigate past red wool strung around the fences and trees, while the dancers peer out from behind the bushes. On our return to the foyer, performer Bruno Humberto lies on the floor muttering in a babel of languages before ushering us into the auditorium and into the world of the play.

Humberto is a deft comic performer, managing to be both manic and sympathetic. His opening monologue describes the experience of walking into a party, the rehearsals in one’s head, and the panic underlying a confident exterior. Suddenly a “power failure” plunges us into darkness, eclipsing his moment. This leads to the miming of a tea party, held behind a billowing curtain which is only illuminated by the glow of oil lamps and matches held by the performers. The three female dancers play an exhausting game of cards to pass away the long power cut.

In one interlude the performers play a game of shadows with their bodies, limbs shrinking and growing on the curtains, with Tristan Shorr’s delicate atmospheric music making the spectacle hypnotic. The seeming simplicity of the effects is another factor in making the event almost feel like a private show which each audience member locked in their heads.

Dancer Tamar Daly tells us a story about a blind man who knows how to use sewing machines, exaggerating the physical gestures, making them angular, imitating the straight lines of a seam. Anglepoise lamps later double up as dancing partners for the women, who wear outfits of one colour each: yellow, green, and red.

Humberto then tells a story of creation, calling on the audience to fill in the gaps; this ends up being a story about god as a giant cat. During this sequence, the female dancers place lamps around him frantically as he speaks. While his fast, engaging scenes complement the delicate feel of the play, it would have been good to see more of Deprez and Linda Rehmal, who circle the stage and the other performers throughout.

The red threads we navigated at the beginning of the piece hint at the delicacy of the play’s construction. We’re also left to make the connections between each part ourselves, but instead it is more pleasurable to simply watch, and absorb the atmosphere. As if to take us out of this state of mind at the end of the production, we are instructed to light our matches. Each audience member turns to another one, looking for a lighter. Inevitably, the flames go out, but it works to bring us out of the dream-like state, bringing the performance full-circle; I’d be curious to know if other people experienced it as I did.


Zakia Uddin

Zakia Uddin lives in East London and has written for The Wire, Vice and Whitehot.

Anima Show Info

Produced by Karavan Ensemble

Cast includes Bruno Humberto, Marion Deprez, Tamar Daly, Linda Rehmal




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