Naya Lovell, Connor Kerrigan and Brenda Lee Grech in Jo Strømgren's Rooms. Pictures: Camilla Greenwell
Many years ago, arriving in Birmingham for the first time, we lived for a short while in a flat, or an apartment in today’s elevated parlance, and the odd door banging or a distant baby crying was the nearest you ever got to excitement.
What went on behind all those closed doors was a mystery but I would bet a winning lottery ticket that it was not even in the same universe as the wonderful apartment block Rambert discovered in their online live broadcast of Rooms.
The internationallyacclaimed dance company takes us through 36 scenes, each behind a mystery door, with the odd window thrown in, introducing us to 100 characters, all provided by 17 dancers in a fascinating slice of supercharged life.
Guillaume Quéau, Alex Soulliere, Aishwarya Raut, and Max Day
All human life is here from adultery, or at the very least somewhat more than a bit on the side, to a sort of Hasidic Jewish dance troupe – or are they? The CIA monitoring station . . . possibly. who knows in the espionage business . . . next door think it could be a Zionist spy ring, or maybe it is all part of what is being seen through virtual reality goggles in a room a couple of doors away.
Then we have the grieving widow with an urn of ashes all that is left of her lost love – until UPS, or whoever got the delivery gig, turns up with the right urn and swaps them over – the ultimate in ashes to ashes.
We even have a police raid on a cannabis farm tended by a bloke in a Newcastle United shirt, a hunter shooting a gorilla, monks leaping from a window, a woman and a baby in a glass fronted cabinet and to add a classical touch a string duo which should have been a trio but the cellist was late, much to the chagrin of the soprano waiting to sing Purcell’s O, let me ever, ever weep from The Fairy-Queen.
And the music plays its part, carrying everything along from Baroque with Purcell then Bach’s The Art of Fugue, through Flamenco and the Classic Yiddish Klezmer Tansst Tantst Yidelekh by Abe Schwartz and on to the modern electronic music of Matt Elliot with The Howling Song.
A figure passes the window under the weight of a glass fronted cabinet
Just as the scenes, backwards and forwards between three rooms, each seem different, the music reflects the light and shade of human emotion, of the human condition; we have moments of slow, sensuous sexuality, we have some expert on a radio show talking pretentious twaddle, and we have violence with a husband battering his wife around the head with a pan – neatly returning it to the rack after one supposes she has shuffled off her mortal coil.
Justice will be served though as he will get his comeuppance in the final scene when all the characters converge in a sort of encore outside the window of the middle room, some with fun, some with happiness and some with revenge in mind.
The brutal husband now discovered in what seems to be a sort of grown up version of rock, paper, scissors that a wife with a hunting rifle beats a saucepan, non-stick or not, any time. Characters flooded in and out past the window with it all ending with a character on a bed with a baby but it all started so simply.
We open with a group of friends and someone mentions they have a dance school, cue Glenn Miller and Moonlight Serenade and away we go. First two men start to dance then drift off to the room to the left, then two women dance together and glide into that same left room, which leaves a man and a woman to complete the gender treble and the young man thinks his moment has come as she reaches across to him, but all she wants is his Rubik’s Cube – which is not a euphemism in case you were wondering.
And she, likes the rest, heads into the room on the left, clutching her cube, leaving our young men desolate and alone. The Rubik’s Cube makes an appearance later in what appears to be a head-to-head contest, complete with pom poms and cheerleaders.
It is all a fascinating mish mash of styles, music and dance all beautifully performed and so fast moving with scenes changing all the time that there is something there for everybody. It might not be in the flesh but neither is it a film, this is theatre and contemporary dance shown through the medium of TV and it works. a treat,
Norwegian director and playwright Jo Strømgren directs and choreographs the piece with Birmingham Hippodrome one of a number of theatres here and internationally supporting the project.
The dancers were:
Left Room - Adel Balint, Daniel Davidson, Kym Sojourna, Edit Domoszlai, Juan Gil, Alex Akapohi
Middle Room - Alex Soulliere, Guillaume Queau, Max Day, Simone Damberg Wurtz, Aishwarya Raut
Right Room - Antonello Sangirardi, Brenda Lee Grech, Naya Lovell, Liam Francis, Conor Kerrigan