Feel the Love

Chickenshed Young Company
Chickenshed Young Company

Feel the Love Credit: Caz Dyer
Feel the Love Credit: Caz Dyer
Feel the Love Credit: Caz Dyer

The infectious excitement of Pride celebrations for the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots finds its way into sections of Feel the Love, a musical dance reflection on the meaning of love.

The show is alert to the way love and its expression, is always being shaped by the social context.

There is the sudden shocked realisation of a young man and woman in love, that they belong to rival gangs of red and blue that moments before were shouting abuse at each other.

And those in authority don’t always protect us. The young black youth in another scene must know this as he pensively waits, alone on stage, the haunting words of “Blue Lights” sung by Lydia Stables warning him “you better run when you hear the siren coming”. Black lives still don’t matter enough to police in America.

A very different kind of love is evoked by the piece in which Darcey Salt, Lydia Stables and Dara Hannon movingly sing “Lost Without You” as video footage is screened of refugees travelling across deserts and oceans, dependent on a close companion for help, needing their destination to welcome them, because “I think I’m lost without you.”

The story of the gay character James (Adem Harrison) threads its way through the performance, from his early memories of wearing eye liner, to him sitting on a stairway in panic as he envisages the cruel reactions of others after pictures of him with a male at a party have been posted on social media. His relief at getting a call from a close friend turns to anger when that friend tells him it was his own fault. Recalling the recent report of the anti-gay physical attack on two women returning home by bus, James says, “it could have been any of us on that night bus to Camden.”

But these reminders of the continuing cruelties of prejudice against gay people are followed by an uplifting celebration of resistance.

A visually impressionistic dance sequence, with an American voice-over, conjures up the events of 1969 at New York’s Stonewall Inn, when a woman fought back against a brutal police raid, sparking a riot for freedom.

A subsequent scene takes us to the wild exuberance of Pride celebrations of that historic event, with people dancing across the theatre, video of Pride marchers projected onto a screen and coloured paper streamers falling from above.

Feel the Love has an exciting energy, exceptionally good singers, imaginative dance creations and a social conscience.

There are quieter moments and at least one very fine lyrical monologue. But for many, the quality of love so hedged in by society might be summed up by the voice of a young woman who simply yearns for someone “who lets me breathe.” It is the hope for a better world.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna

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