A performance that collapses in realism
The Belgian theatre company tg STAN programmed the world première of their multi-genre performance the tangible in BIT Teatergarasjen. The starting point of the performance is an area they travelled to, called the Fertile Crescent. It roughly covers Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and parts of Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and Iran.
Historically the area has been important in many ways, also and not least for its conflicts. So it is right that the geographical and political aspect is not too obvious, but merely present as a frame of consciousness for both the audience and the performers. The texts are told as everyday stories. They hint at destruction, but circle just as much around more universal existential and philosophical questions. The three dancers move through a wide spectrum of expressions, between determination and desperation. The projected photos of buildings become art. Text, music, dance and photos each tell their own story as well as common stories, and it is up to us to put the pieces together within the mentioned frame of consciousness.
But then something strange happens. The different forms of expression all become more explicit: now there is clearly talk about war, in the text and the images, about tanks in the streets, weapons and missiles and daily fear. Even the soundtrack and music hint at war. The text is no longer poetic, but becomes prosaic. The tension, and the air between things, are gone, in other words: the space for interpretation disappears. We are ordered to be affected by what is happening.
After this twist towards the explicit the temperature rises. The dancers intensify their patterns, but the performance has gone off the rails. I can't get back into it, and the rest is more like a lengthy jumping around something that I understand is supposed to be infused with meaning.
It is admirable to wish to be topical in stage art. But I liked it better when it was timeless and open; that does not make it any less topical.
Bergens tidende, Ingvild Braein, 8 April 2010