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Rambert 2013 (Plymouth - tour)

Rambert explodes onto the Plymouth Theatre Royal stage with a very mixed bag

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Rambert Dance Company

Rambert explodes onto the stage with its mixed bag, opening with the best of the four - SUB.

Choreographer Itzik Galili translates Michael Gordon's Weather One into a dark and mesmerising ritual of athletic, bare-chested, be-skirted and bustled male dancers.

Seven dancers push the limits of physicality in a visceral and relentless piece requiring exceptional precision and timing.

Raucous electronic strings and intermittent piercing light and thick darkness adds an extra dimension as wave upon wave of solo, duo and full ensemble appear and disappear – superb, five star stuff.

Next up is L'Apres-midi d'un faune with Dane Hurst (amazingly not too exhausted from his part in the previous piece) as the languorous Faun in the first revival for 30 years of Rambert's take on the celebrated Nijinsky seminal ballet.

Stylistic and very silent movie-esque, the short, fun piece features a sinewy Angela Towler as the Nymph while conductor Paul Hoskins controls Debussy's revolutionary and controversial interpretation of Mallarme's symbolist poem.

Said to be "in response" to this, What Wild Ecstasy follows.

Composer Gavin Higgins explains his music as a reaction to the myth of Pan, Keats' 'Ode on a Grecian Urn', Acid House and the underground rave scene. To that, choreographer Mark Baldwin overlays his fascination with ritualistic dance gatherings. The result is a fusion of Frankie Goes To Hollywood and psychedelic free love. An ensemble dressed randomly – of particular note is tartan, turban and speedos, and red fishnet – perform bucolic shenanigans under giant pollinating insects.

Doesn't really hit the spot for me.

The Castaways is Barak Marshall's heralded journey of "twelve souls trapped in a hell of their own making".

With just a huge industrial suspended vent spilling light into the otherwise dimly lit empty set, seemingly lost characters act out the parts including the dreamer, mean girls, greedy beggar, jilted bride and others in a mixture of speech and role play which includes a great number of bursting balloons, gas masks, bread and pillows.

And there is also, thankfully, dance from time to time, where the otherwise marauding characters break off from their stereotypical behaviour in the human zoo of their making to join in wild abandon to Robert Millett's diverse lively arrangements encompassing Yiddish pop, Soviet pomp, New York jazz and Balkan folk.

But, just like the trapped souls, this has nowhere to go.

– Karen Bussell