Birmingham Hippodrome, Friday 4th February 2022
This latest piece from dance company Motionhouse seeks to externalise the internal. Our inner voices, represented here by crows, are what keep us apart from others. Our inner doubts, fears and concerns prevent us from achieving our potential as individuals and as a society. The show begins with the performers moving like crows, settling on the rooftops of tall buildings in a cityscape projected on the backdrop and on the set. Then we meet human characters, each of them caught up with their own crow, holding them back, keeping them distracted, and so on.
Above all, the show is a visual feast, as the performers move around an ever-shifting set. A huge cube frame, when covered in fabric, becomes a building emerging from the background. The cast physically move this structure around – putting the motion house in Motionhouse, you might say. Stripped of its fabric, the cube becomes a room, a cage. The way the performers move and manipulate the frame while they move in, on, and through it, is spellbinding.
The second act begins with swimmers in a stylised ocean, heads, arms, and torsos rising from the cloth, thrashing and flailing around, until one figure rises up, impossibly tall. This is a turning point. From now on, the crows are no longer around. The humans move together, supporting and helping each other to get over obstacles in the landscape (the cube frame) and creating a sense of shared purpose, harmony and cooperation. If we don’t listen to our inner voice, the piece appears to say, then we will really get somewhere as a species. It’s a back-to-basics approach. The performers are like a tribe of prehistoric humans, and also a giant, multi-headed organism. The individuals have become parts of the whole, a mass of limbs and heads and trousers.
Of course, one’s inner voice isn’t necessarily negative. Quite the contrary. Perhaps the crows could turn into doves or something.
Brimming with ideas, the show doesn’t give you time to absorb and reflect; it’s constantly shifting and changing, presenting each next idea, expressing the next concept, so you get an overall impression of the experience with some moments and images that stick in your mind’s eye – a man drowning in a water tank, for example. What impresses, perhaps more than the content of the piece, is the proficiency of the performers. Their circus skills blend in seamlessly with contemporary dance, extending the range of the performers and what is achievable in their storytelling.
Captivating and breath-taking, Nobody has something for everybody.