Leigh Warren & Dancers @ Royalty Theatre
7:30pm, Tue 26 Feb 2008
So – this is my first bit od dance for the year, and all the usual dance caveats apply – I simply don’t have a bloody clue what I’m looking at. Post-show drinkies and discussion yielded people who were reading far more into the piece than I; what was simply a case of The Pretties for me was a source of irritation and disappointment for them. Sometimes it’s nice to be a neophyte.
Anyway, onto the piece: loosely based on the narrative of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Seven opens with a hokey arrangement of tiny beds onstage. As the dwarves creep up from beneath the stage, the beds rise to be suspended mid-air; alarm bells went off in my head, “Wank Force 7” they cried. The mirror at the back of the stage cracked, and the dwarves roamed the stage in a synchronised pack.
Aside from the prop theatrics, this opening is quite neat – the pack is perfectly synchronised, and yet seem to roam the stage with an organic disorder, with individual dwarves breaking free of the pack to introduce themselves in a humorous manner. And, in terms of dance, this (sadly) remains the highlight of the performance.
The Snow White plotline is very loosely followed, with the seven dancers switching between the dwarves, Snow White, her step-mother, the King, the Prince, horses, and – most prominently – frogs. There’s a suggestion that Snow White was raped when dispatched by her step-mother, there’s some odd asides (a frog “ventriloquism” act, featuring the poisoned apple, and some pre-recorded “mirror, mirror” snippets), and a sequence that was projected onto the rear of the stage.
It should be obvious that Seven excels in terms of the vision, and it reeks of polished presentation. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that it’s all a bit calculated; it almost feels like fan-service. Yes, it’s a sumptuous and lavish production, but in the end I found the wait for the beds to (predictably) lower back to the ground to be irritating. Nice production, but about 20 minutes too long and – strangely – bereft of actual dance. And, in terms of theatre, it’s still lacking.