The Scotsman

Sea of Bones

Traverse Theatre

18th June 2007

Darkness and anarchy dominate the stage

GRUNGY, unsettled and disconcerting, this one-off performance - which featured such elements as severed heads, modern-day soldiers and their wives, and Braveheart-style warpaint-covered dancers - was varied even by modern dance standards.

Staged by the Mark Bruce Dance Company, it offered a gentle and romantic Pas De Deux one moment, throbbing pelvic thrusts to the floor the next, and frenzied flailing of arms and bodies a few seconds later.

The music was similarly diverse. Tom Waits comfortably rubbed shoulders with an uncommonly restrained PJ Harvey, and The Kills sat oddly alongside several Scarlatti compositions. Yet however much the combinations shouldn't have worked, despite a few moments of uneasiness, they did. Delving into the subconscious world of dreams for its content, the show was a little short on narrative flow - or any kind of story.

Fortunately, other elements held the piece together, however anarchically, with Marian Bruce's design as the chief pot of glue. What story there was centred around a dream version of Orpheus and myth in general and the nature of relationships. Dark and foreboding, Guy Hoare's exquisite lighting was an eighth performer. Spotlights, dimly pushing through the dry ice, barely illuminated the often erotic, always animated shapes thrown by the seven dancers. They gilded the already dangerous atmosphere suggested by Bruce's predominantly aggressive choreography.

Nick Cave's The Lyre Of Orpheus was the single explanatory ingredient in the show, and the most out of place moment. Interpreted literally, it veered away from the impressionistic style of the rest of the show, as if it were bolted on in an attempt to clarify matters. It went over the top, if that was its purpose. Closing with Waits' That Feel was inspired, though. With no attempt to explain anything, it embodied many of the qualities of the performance itself. But then, like Mark Bruce, Waits was always a fan of darkness and anarchy.



- The Scotsman

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