Friday, January 27

Nobody: A Dance-Circus Adventure – Hull New Theatre

I have just one question to ask the seven performers who entertained in Nobody: A Dance-Circus Adventure at the Hull New Theatre on Thursday evening, and that is “What planet are you all from?”.

I’ve lived on planet Earth all my life, so I’ve sort of got an inkling of what humans are capable of. But this crew are out of this world.

The stage setting started off simply enough with a few random boxes, lit up to look like mini-office blocks (that’s my interpretation, anyway). A huge video screen backdrop showed a cityscape of high-rise buildings, and a sky full of moving clouds. A massive cube in front of the screen was draped in material, showing a building plus moving digital scenes.

Each alien, I mean performer, plays two roles – one as a crow, representing the humans’ inner voices: and the other role as a human.

The crows, dressed all in black, look menacing and act the same way. Their acrobatic agility knows no bounds – I can hardly find the words to describe their actions. Seeing really is believing. Adding to the scary atmosphere is the loud music, mainly a drumbeat, and the digital imagery of hundreds of black crows, swirling, swooping and cawing. Suddenly, in a jaw-dropping scene, the buildings on the backdrop moved forward, seemingly to overwhelm us in the audience as well as the dancers, who never let up for one moment.

Talking of never letting up, that was my only bugbear on the night – there was never a still moment where we could show our appreciation. I was worried the performers thought us theatregoers were too quiet and not enjoying ourselves, but nothing could be further from the truth, as the lengthy applause at “curtain down” showed.

The aforementioned cube turned out to be a major part of the stage setting. Before our very eyes, the drapery covering it disappeared, revealing a metal cage through and upon which all sorts of unbelievable moves were made.

Dancers swung and hung off the bars, leapt from on high, crawled, slithered, dangled – you name it, they did it. All to the constant, hypnotic throb of the music and that amazing backdrop.

Human failings, such as selfishness, emerged in the first half – especially when they left a poor man to “drown” while they were busy chatting with each other.

In the second half everything, including the stage setting, was calmer and quieter, more reflective; the humans realising how important they all are to each other. Gone was the busy, digital backdrop; instead, the stage floor was now “water” with the dancers partly submerged and, eventually, saving themselves by climbing on to the huge cube, which was now the focal point. And, as in the first half, what the performers did in and out of that construction, defied the law of gravity.

The theatre was far from full but, my goodness, when word spreads about this experience, audiences will be queuing out of the door next time Nobody: A Dance-Circus Adventure comes to town.

Tour dates: Friday & Saturday, December 30th & 31st, 2022 – Burghof Lörrach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany; Friday, January 27th, 2023 – Theatre Royal, Winchester. Visit www.motionhouse.co.uk or call 01926 887052 for more information.

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 24th November 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★

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