Verge: The Blue Room Theatre, Sally Richardson and Patrice Smith

Bernadette Lewis Photo: Ashley de Prazer
Bernadette Lewis
Photo: Ashley de Prazer

The Blue Room has done it again. Another wildly unique performance has found its way into this humble studio space. Presented by Sally Richardson, Patrice Smith and The Blue Room Theatre Verge is a haunting and tense movement performance piece like no other I’ve seen.

Completely mute, the three performers use their bodies and facial expressions to demonstrate the moments before someone loses control. It is not a narrative, but a heartfelt exploration separated into three segments, each with a central performer.  What I personally took from the performance was threefold: being literally on the edge, the calm before the storm, and that single moment before losing control when composure is impossible to achieve.

As an ensemble, and in their own right, each of the performers is outstanding. The separate segments have a different feel, with defining traits to give an idea of the dancer’s character. The first main performer, Bernadette Lewis, is full of energy, emotion and commitment. Each movement she makes is purposeful, revealing a desperation to find a balance.

Laura Boynes and Jacqui Claus  Photo:  Sarah Rowbottom
Laura Boynes and Jacqui Claus
Photo: Sarah Rowbottom

Jacqui Claus is a complete contrast, controlled and collected. She gives a strong and passionate performance. Finally Laura Boynes demonstrates a character lost between being focused and hopeless. Her face shows a level of determination that is unmatched by anything I’ve seen previously.

Patrice Smith’s choreography for this small studio space is phenomenal. Each individual performer’s segment, and their movements as a group, have been choreographed extremely effectively. Sometimes fluid, sometimes jerky and primal, the movements are graceful, frantic and melancholy; even when the performers are purposely out of synch, illustrating their inability to come together as one, the effect is subtly touching.

The dynamic lighting (Joe Lui) and simple, metallic-looking set (Fiona Bruce and Lauren Ross) fit the needs of the performance well. However the standout technical aspect is the way Joe Lui’s music adds to the impact of the performances. Each segment is characterised by a different type of sound design that complements the performers; sometimes in harmony with their movement and sometimes in harsh contrast.

Complemented by simple black costumes based on everyday wear – dress, short shorts, tights – (Fiona Bruce and Lauren Ross) the performance is simultaneously tribal and modern and full of rich variation.

Verge is an ordered, purposeful chaos of movement. Being more of a theatre person than a dance person, this was an entirely new experience for me and surprisingly enjoyable. Gripping and tense, it keeps you hooked and gives you plenty of time to wonder and draw your own conclusions. Powerful, disconcerting and poignant, it is a one-of-a-kind movement piece that could only ever really be at home at The Blue Room.

13-30 November @ 7pm

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