Dance review: Cold Blood, King’s Theatre

Tiny sets and use of hands and fingers characterise the show. Picture: Julien Lambert
Tiny sets and use of hands and fingers characterise the show. Picture: Julien Lambert
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The brain is a marvellous thing. It allows us to absorb multiple bits of information, both visual and aural, at the same time and process them emotionally.

Cold Blood, King’s Theatre (*****)

That’s our job during Cold Blood, to watch a series of unfortunate events play out on a large cinema screen, whilst simultaneously taking in the 12 technicians and performers beneath it, filming them all in real time. We’re also busy feeling – sadness and amusement at the narrative, and admiration and surprise at the sheer brilliance of it all.

But an even bigger hats-off goes to the brains of Belgium-based couple Michèle Anne De May and Jaco Van Dormael, for dreaming up this genius idea in the first place. From a vague notion sitting at their kitchen table in 2012, the choreographer and filmmaker have created a whole new genre of entertainment fusing both their skills.

A follow-up to Kiss & Cry, the couple’s first venture into this most uncharted territory, Cold Blood is almost impossible to describe in any way that does it justice. Seven “stupid deaths” are depicted, each comi-tragic and unexpected, using tiny intricate sets and (predominantly) the fingers, hands and arms of three performers. Occasionally their whole bodies are brought into use, but mostly it’s those dancing digits that tell the tales.

As the dancers switch between countless miniature locations, the camera seamlessly captures their movement. Whether they’re driving along a lonely highway, comforting a baby in a crib, sliding sexily up and down a pole, or tap dancing Fred and Ginger-style on a glamorous stage.

Visually, Cold Blood never falls short of stunning, but the voice-over delivering Thomas Gunzig’s text also has much to share. At turns laugh-out-loud funny and poignant, it forces us to contemplate our own death – yet makes us happy we’re alive to experience this moment of wonder.