Scottish Ballet: Each Other ****
Mark Murphy’s V-TOL: Out of this World ****
Watching them communicate from opposing sides is deeply moving, their bodies throwing pain, desperation, confusion and hope across the divide, quicker and more effectively than words could. There’s no need for translation here, this is a global language and the 17 dancers speak it fluently.
Each shoe, we are to assume, represents the human who once wore it, provoking untold stories in our head beyond the ones we witness on stage. All of which would be emotional enough, but when the dancers start to move in tight unison, the piece really takes flight.
Powerful, exciting, engaging and thought-provoking, Each Other is as far removed from pointe shoes and tutus as Scottish Ballet has ever gone, and they wear it well. The only issue here is length – shave ten minutes off, and the piece would be just about perfect.
It’s 16 years since Mark
Murphy created a show under the V-TOL banner, during which time he’s been directing large-scale projects like the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony. The experience gathered in those intervening years are evident in Out of this World, a medical drama with a difference.
Something is clearly wrong with Ellen; her head hurts, random conversations keep being replayed, and a stranger has booked her a plane ticket to an undisclosed destination. Her only saving grace is husband Antony, who appears at regular intervals to deliver much-needed love and support.
If all this sounds a little surreal, it’s because everything we see is taking place inside Ellen’s head, while she’s in a medically induced coma.
This is a conceit which gives Murphy licence to use all manner of theatrical devices, including dynamic aerial choreography and incredible digital imagery, to tell her tale.
On a very surface level, there is much to enjoy here – the pace rarely drops, there is always something visually stimulating to look at, and the performances are strong (Sarah Swire, in particular, is a powerhouse as the troubled Ellen). But Out of this World strives for something much deeper than spectacle – it makes a play for our hearts, and wins.
At the core of this drama lies a loving relationship, a heart-breaking decision and a reminder of just how fragile life is.