Lady Macbeth (FringeTIX)
Egiku Hanayagi Japanese Dances @ The Mercury
6:30pm, Fri 16 Mar 2007
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile (and if you claim that to be true, then you’re a liar), you’ll know that I always try to squeeze in some Shakespeare. I love Bill’s work, I really do. And, with the “straight” version of Macbeth looking a little uninspired, I thought that this dance piece might satisfy my bardly cravings.
The Mercury darkens, and the lighting (which remains superb throughout) gradually lifts to reveal Egiku Hanayagi kneeling amongst a field of stemmed roses (at least, I thought they were roses. The program mentions amaryllises, but they don’t look at all similar). In due course, she slowly begins stripping the flowers from the stems, tossing the results into two separate piles. After all flowers are thus treated, she leaves the stage; another figure appears and, ever-so-slowly, gathers the mess into a box and takes it offstage. The cleaning lady, if you will.
Ummm, then someone else slooooooooowly wanders across stage. And finally, a knife makes an appearance… “Out! Out! Damn Spot!”… oh wait, they aren’t spots, they’re flower petals.
And then the performance ends.
Look, if this piece were entitled “Deliberately Slow Japanese Dance” I’d have been far more inclined to actually enjoy this; as it was, however, I spent a good deal of the first half trying to correlate the performance to the text… and failing. As a result, I spent most of the second half thinking of Kate Box’s features and the character of Mrs Gollancz in The Ecstatic Bible. The reason I managed to multitask so efficiently is because everything happens so slowly. Go on, check for yourself – how many times did I mention “slow” above without resorting to a thesaurus?
“Slow” is far too nice a word, though – “laborious” seems more apt. Sure, movement is very deliberate, very precise… but that would indicate there’s some direct artistic intent. And, whilst other punters left The Mercury saying “ooh, she really captured the whole text,” I wasn’t one of them. In fact, this is the only show so far this year I’ve nodded off in – the moment of absolute clarity when your head snaps back was the highlight of the show.
To be honest, this is the most passionless response I’ve had to a show in 2007. No hate (as in Dances of India), nothing pleasurable. Just… nothing.
At least the red flowers looked stunning in the stage’s lights.