Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

James Son of James

Created by Michael Keegan-Dolan and the company
Fabulous Beast Theatre
Co-production with the Barbican BITE08, the Dublin Theatre Festival and the Dance Touring Partnership Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
(2008)

Production photo

The setting is the skeletal structure of a house of wood, and opens with a gang of hard-hatted workers marching in and out with their equipment, and almost fortuitously performing a magical series of manoevres with their planks of wood, the support stands and saws, to a tinkling music which rushes them on in their endeavours.

A young woman appears at the top of the house, evidently contemplating throwing herself down onto the funeral service carrried out over the passing of James. James son of James rushes in, evidently unrecognised at first, having rushed from afar to be at the service.

What follows is a series of interactions between the eleven dancer/singer/actors who form the company, exhibiting a most unusual interaction between the three components of their talents, mainly dance, some singing and a little acting woven in a fashion which is wonderfully attractive, though sometimes inconsequential.

The pieces are short, ending suddenly, leaving a feeling of bewilderment though undoubtedly stimulating the audience, sometimes to tittering giggles, occasionally anguished dismay or definite guffaws: an election in progress, disposal of apples, medical examinations, a pregnancy with an accusation of infidelity when the policeman father threatens his wife with a pistol, demanding to know whether she had screwed David, an unusual pattern of gestation.

In this short programme, there is opportunity for observing a naked behind, a drug injection, a spanking dance, occasional obscenity, suicidal ideas and three people smoking, to say nothing of the climactic ending.

After the performance there was an opportunity of questioning the Director, Michael Keegan-Dolan, and nearly all the dancers about their perspective on the Company as a whole with its emphasis on Yoga as an introductory routine for the day's work and the way in which everyone would express their point of view, to be incorporated in the presentation as a whole. This offers a worthwhile opportunity which should be taken up where possible.

Touring to Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe (11 - 12 April); Lighthouse, Poole (16 - 19 April); The Lowry, Salford (22-26 April); Hall for Cornwall, Truro (2 - 3 May)

Peter Lathan reviewed this production at Northern Stage, Newcastle

Reviewer: Philip Seager