Monday, 2 July 2012

Crow in Greenwich.

Off to Greenwich to see Handspring's latest show based on Ted Hughes' Crow poems. It's a strange mixture of the expected innovative puppetry and a rather unsophisticated, almost naive use of choreography and verse speaking. It's a bit of a muddled evening, Hughes abstract, nihilistic mediation on creation doesn't transfer easily to stage and much of the dark undertow of the work is made meaningless by the over literal interpretation of the production.

There are side lights, the almost obligatory disembodying microphones and a huge rubbish tip of a set on which the sack cloth dressed cast perch whilst waiting to swoop into manipulative action. None of these choices feel right, they simply offer a rather cliched vocabulary for a tired form of dance theatre.

With each episode Crow, in his cunning existential battle with God, grows larger, more demanding, more dangerous and this expansion of an idea gives the company an opportunity to take a simple puppet and develop its mechanics over the course of the hour into a monstrous writhing phallic creation. This is what they're good at but from gentle peck to astonishing pecker, War Horse this isn't!

Ultimately the work is rather dull, mono paced and lacking the textured nuance of the original work. I couldn't help feeling this was a company still coming to terms with the possibilities of the text on which they'd chosen to work, rather than insightful artists reaching out for a coherent and satisfying realisation.

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