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Epic (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Venue: greenroom
Where: Manchester

Using contemporary dance, video footage and live acoustic music as tools to explore the epic twentieth century, Foster & Dechery’s Epic was always going to be interesting.

Alternating between highly-stylised and naturalistic performance styles, the show takes us through famous and intimate events, either re-imagined by the performers or disclosed to us first hand via projections of the performers’ families. With no linear narrative to follow, the audience are offered snippets of recent history, inviting them to relate to it by whichever pathway they might find.    

Devised by its four performers, the show confronts each of them with the paradoxical concept of playing (or not playing) oneself onstage. With varying levels of success here, they each relay personal stories of their family history to the audience in a familiar, conversational tone, with Pedro Ines achieving a real sense of warmth and intimacy.

This style is starkly contrasted with the stylised scenes re-enacting historical events, in which the performers speak in detached, unemotional voices and use minimal, symbolic movement. Ed Rapley manages this with ease, as is noted by the pioneer of this style, Bertolt Brecht, when he makes his cameo (played by Chloe Dechery) during the performance.       
As an ensemble, the performers are clearly very well attuned to one another. Technically competent, they move around the stage and each other with absolute control, dance with hypnotic synchronicity and manoeuvre their own set with grace and efficiency during the performance. Katherina Radeva’s design is unobtrusive, even as the cast interact directly with it.

An ambitious idea that has spawned an unusual show, Epic has moments of poignancy, a sense of playfulness and a cast with energy and enthusiasm. Filled with little moments that from a distance create one big picture; a bit like history, then.

- Sara Cocker