Dance review: In Her Shadows, Traverse, Edinburgh

Aerial dance is part of the make-up of in Her Shadows. Picture: Contributed
Aerial dance is part of the make-up of in Her Shadows. Picture: Contributed
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AMY sits alone on her suitcase, looking expectantly around the airport terminal. She’s travelled miles, been away for years – surely somebody is here to welcome her home. When that somebody doesn’t come, it’s our first indication that all is not well in Amy’s world.

In Her Shadows

Traverse, Edinburgh

Rating: ***

Inspired by co-creator and performer Debbie Robbins’s own experience of familial strife, In Her Shadows is an open and honest look at depression. Fusing physical theatre, aerial dance and visual projections, it takes us inside a mind struggling to make sense of the relationships that surround her.

A beautiful curved set, part cinema screen, part aerial playground, is the backdrop for literal and abstract indicators of Amy’s mental state. At times she looks free and weightless, climbing up and spinning with aerial silks, rope or hoop. Other times, words crush her via an email or text exchange with her mother. We read the words projected, see her reaction, feel her pain.

As a concept, In Her Shadows is to be applauded. Not only does it bring depression out into the open, but it also suggests a means of coping with it, when Amy eventually turns to a counsellor for support.

The decision to split Amy’s psyche between two performers (Robbins and co-creator/performer, Rachael Macintyre share the role) has varying results – sometimes adding intensity, sometimes diluting it. But the work is always engaging, and the use of Jenny Lindsay’s candid poem Today, based on her own experience of depression, is potent.