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Review: Cold Blood at the Ridley Centre

Review By Lia Cocks I don’t like to read about a show before seeing it. I much prefer to go in unaware and come to my own conclusion. With all the hype surrounding Kiss & Cry Collective’s Cold Blood, it was difficult to shield myself from the talk. However, I managed to observe opening night only knowing I was watching dancing hands in a tiny set. The brainchild of husband and wife creative duo, dancer and choreographer Michele Anne De Mey, and acclaimed director and screenwriter Jaco Van Dormael and texts by Thomas Gunzig, Cold Blood takes us on a whimsical and entrancing ride. It is the story of seven unpredictable and startling deaths through a multitude of scenarios, using human hands and tiny, child-like toys to demonstrate the silly but fading feebleness of life. This fascinating mix of art forms - dance, film, text - is true genius and is nothing short of original fantastical theatre. As we sit and see a large projection screen, below is the live activity of dancers, camera crew and technicians that create the real time show. In actuality, it felt as though we were watching the film being made, not too dissimilar to days of old movie making. Nuanced, dream-like sequences take us on the journey of the seven deaths, and we watch in awe and wonder as the dancers hands maneuver and haunt the surrounding scenery becoming human before our very eyes. They tap dance on a crystal tray using thimbles as tap shoes to summon the air of Fred and Ginger, in another they channel Esther Williams in a water ballet routine. The dancers recreate ‘Bolero’ in the vein of Maurice Bejart, and references to Black Swan and David Lynch are evident. Set to a sensational soundtrack ranging from Schubert, Janis Joplin, Nina Simone and David Bowie, the soundscape and lighting design make an enormous impact on the mise en scene and cinematography. Vistas such as a tiny toy plane in a chilly forest, a tiny dollhouse series of rooms, a view full of skyscrapers, a war-torn city and the haze of outer space. All created in front of our eyes with a white glove and washing machine hose - for the 2001 Space Odyssey inspired scene that is! The ingenuity of this show is its ability to simultaneously create two performances; one on the screen and one on the stage. We see a woman draped on a bed, but on the screen she is floating in between a window. In another scene, a toy car is wedged between two feather dusters on egg beaters; on screen we see a car wash and the fatal effect of leaving your window open during said car wash. Each death triggers a memory and a sense of wistfulness, sorrow and seclusion in the narrative. Such an extraordinary and glorious experience, deserving of its standing ovation. Magical, enthralling and breath-taking. Who knew fingers held so much emotional power?

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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