The term Bahok means carrier and therefore the production attempts to explore the ways in which the body carries national identity through movement. The show begins with the vast empty stage of the Lyric space at the Lowry which always serves as a striking platform for dance. A few chairs replicate an airport lounge and we meet a variety of 'passengers.'
But, if you can imagine being stuck at an airport with a bunch of flyers who speak incomprehensible gobbledygook which has the depth of a Hallmark card, then this is the effect created completely unintentionally (I hope!) here. Sure, some of the dance moves - particularly the group pieces are superbly synchronised and one spider-like scene is a real sight to behold, but there is simply not enough.
When there is movement, it is often punctuated with yet more pretentious ramblings from the cast, which often borders on the embarrassing. To put this into perspective, often Bahok feels like a meeting with an old friend who speaks about themselves constantly, yet somehow manages to tell you absolutely nothing.
As an audience member, you simply end up willing on the dance scenes, but the Elvis song "A Little Less Conversation" should serve as the soundtrack to Bahok as there is not enough action, please. The blurb focuses on a story about immigrants and their loss of identity. These elements ends up being played as cliched stereotypes which bore and offend, such as the Korean man who quotes The Terminator.
Nitin Sawhney's music is at times really uplifting and full of soul. It's a real shame then, that what ends up on stage is so empty and ponderous. Signs such as "Please Wait" and "Delayed" infuriate you as much as the real thing. Converts may pontificate about hidden meanings but anyone in their right mind longs for the dancers to dance, instead they wait but like Samuel Beckett's protagonists, nothing can really save them from their fate.
A missed opportunity then, which makes you long for the work of Vardimon, Bourne or Rambert.
- Glenn Meads
(reviewed at The Lowry, Salford)