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Scattered (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Scattered is a multi-media dance event conceived and directed by Kevin Finnan and choreographed by both himself and the Motionhouse Dance Company, of which he is artistic director. It examines the vital role of water in our world and suggests that it can threaten as well as benefit those that live on this planet.

Various geographic areas are represented ranging from the arctic wastes to barren deserts. Finnan creates a tense almost threatening atmosphere. The extreme cold contorts the dancers into poses reflecting the pain running through their bodies whilst in the heat they scuttle around the stage like the insects and reptiles that live in the desert. Only towards the conclusion are the dancers able to engage in more expansive moves the powerful impact of which show that it is possible to enjoy oneself in water.

This development from brooding restraint to wilful abandonment is underlined by the original score from Sophy Smith and Tim Dickinson that moves from an oppressive electronic pulse to Spanish guitar allowing the dancers to cut loose in a lively Flamenco.

To the rear of the set, designed by Simon Dormon, is a rising slope like the half-pipes in skateboard parks. This provides both a screen for projected images and a platform upon which the company perform. The first indication of just how effectively this piece of equipment adds to the drama of the performance occurs early when a dancer makes what seems like a life-threatening slide from top to bottom inducing gasps from the audience.

From that point on the company bounce up and down the slide in breathtaking displays seeming to defy gravity until the illusion is spoilt by the unnecessary use of a harness in a late sequence.

Multi-media techniques such as filmed projections are often used as a lazy way of perking up a flagging production. In Scattered the filmed backgrounds by Logela Multimedia form an integral part of the show. With perfect timing the dancers interact with the images beautifully. Waterfalls cascade down splashing onto and around the cast who bounce onto the screen and splash into pools of water. The simple use of cloth draped over the screen adds extra depth to images of monstrous jellyfish. It is one of the best examples of the use of technology to enhance theatre.

The dancing evolves subtly which sums up this brilliant production, as the tight restraint of the cast in the opening sequences is so great that it twists their bodies into contorted poses. Gradually the dancing becomes more expressive and the relax and loosen their poses to illustrate the growth of plant life as rain falls on the parched desert.

Finally the dancing becomes energetic with the company moving freely and twirling around each other and dashing up and down the set to create a high-impact conclusion.

Scattered demonstrates the ways in which widely different techniques can be combined to give a terrific evening at the theatre.

- Dave Cunningham

(Reviewed at the Lowry, Salford)


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