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Review: Fragile ****

Lorna Irvine reviews a 'spine-tingling' production that lingers in the mind.

In a dystopian world, the laws of the playground apply. Motionhouse's ensemble of men and women (some of whom are emergent artists, some already established) face off, chase and push and pull each other like abandoned children attempting to forge a new society.

The movement is muscular, brittle and terse, a fusion of street dance, balletic spins and then, ultimately, more Butoh-like slowed down shapes: tentative, where uneasy trust games are played out against an uncertain backdrop. They crash and land like land protesters against regentrification.

Three steel cube constructions in the middle of the ground act as climbing frames, moveable forms both egalitarian and childlike. They weave OCD steps into the grids- the same patterns again and again, like not stepping on the cracks of the pavement, as though doing so would be less reassuring - finding order amid the chaos.

Suddenly, three JCB diggers appear and are integrated into the dance, spinning, doing wheelies, then lifting performers up into the air like sirens—men, women and machine integrated at last.

Geometric and logical, the movements are repeated and the puzzle becomes complete.

This is no simple empty spectacle though, although incredible and visceral to witness—the raw physicality and control of the dancers, the sheer force of the large machines' presence, and strong narrative device of the uncertainty of our urban landscape, make Fragile both immediately accessible and spine-tingling, lingering long in the mind.

Performed as part of this year's Merchant City Festival.

Tags: dance event

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