Dance review: 12 Dancers/Deliberance

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ONE OF the most remarkable things about the 1957 film Twelve Angry Men, is that despite taking place in one small space, for 90 minutes we’re completely captivated.

Venue: Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Rating: * * * *

Review: Kelly Apter

With a larger space to play with than Henry Fonda and co, the creator of 12 Dancers faced a different but equally tough challenge: conveying the idiosyncrasies of each jury member, their relationship with each other, and the legal intricacies of the case without saying a single word.

Choreographer and director, Andy Howitt (who also takes on the Fonda role on stage) had his work cut out, and does an admirable job conveying the major themes of the storyline.

Inevitably, aspects of the plot are lost, with only those very familiar with the original able to spot references such as the passing train.

But the sense of tension, persuasion, frustration and resignation is palpable, helped in no small part by Stephen Deazley’s superb original score, played live on stage.

To give his “jury” an air of authenticity, Howitt has assembled a cast of male dancers ranging in age from 27-65, and it is this that really sets the show apart. Yes, it leads to an inconsistent technical standard, but look what riches we receive as compensation.

Young bucks like Daniel Aing and his seamless blend of breakdance and contemporary catch the eye, but so too does Ian Spink’s quiet grace, Norman Douglas’ theatricality and Malcolm Shields’ emotional strength.

All twelve have something unique to offer, be it agility, drama or passion.