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Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan
RNT Lyttelton Theatre
(2008)

Production photo

Nicholas Hytner likes to broaden the appeal of his theatre and has commissioned three giants in their respective fields to create a piece of dance theatre.

The first to make an impression is sculptor Anish Kapoor. He is never a man to do things on a small scale and fills the back of the stage space with what initially appears to be a bright red wall of around 25 square feet. This dwarfs the only other props, a pair of designer chairs.

In fact, the stunning wall takes on as many guises as the performers and Philip Sheppard's music, changing colour with great regularity. It even takes on silhouetted images and towards the end, Miss Binoche as, like Birnam Wood, it imperceptibly but inexorably advances on the stalls.

The hour long drama that unfolds beneath it portrays the journey of a relationship from love to hate then acceptance, with depth added by some narrated back stories.

The dance is more entertaining than the theatre, as the story does not achieve the stated goal of the director/performers to "dare the new". Little that is said about failed love or Muslim objections to blondes is that original.

The beauty of the evening is intermittent and comes from dance and at times mime, narrating ordinary lives with stunning dance and movement, especially from the specialist Akram Khan, though the less ambitious and adept Juliette Binoche, much better known as a film actress, does not let her partner down.

To make dance theatre work, it is necessary for both components to be something like equal contributors to the whole. On this occasion, while visitors will take away some fantastic images, the story that they attempt to illuminate cannot compete.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher