THERE’S something very egalitarian about this first offering from the newly re-named Alan Greig Dance Theatre (formerly X Factor Dance).
Alan Greig Dance Theatre
Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
Having teamed up with actor/ director Grant Smeaton, Greig has endeavoured to give dance and theatre equal billing, with limited success.
The subject matter is undeniably fascinating. The rise to fame and untimely death of 1980s avant garde singer Klaus Nomi is a tale littered with New York nightlife, pre-AIDS promiscuity, and giants of the music scene like David Bowie, who showed a brief interest in Nomi’s talent. But while it’s a story worth telling, so little is documented about Nomi’s life and character that Greig and Smeaton have been forced to pad out the gaps. Superfluous material, such as a section devoted to other cabaret artistes of the time, does little to drive the story along.
Focused, meaningful moments come and go, including a lovely interplay between Berlin-born Nomi and a US radio jock; the latter trying to get inside the mind of this enigmatic singer. Tom Murray’s original score does an interesting job of blending Nomi tracks (including snatches of his incredible operatic voice) with sounds of the era.
The piece fails to live up to its potential, however, because Greg and Smeaton have pushed the performers beyond their comfort zone. The two dancers can dance, the two actors can act (Laurie Brown, in particular, is a theatrical treasure throughout) but when they step into each other’s genre, the professional sheen is lost.