The Herald 2000 Review

Dance Without Trace

Mary Brennan

The Herald of Scotland, 9 February 2000

THE road leads ever on . . . Or at least it seems to, as film images of open spaces and tarmac-ed highways loom large on a front gauze, or play over the different surfaces of the set – a white curving incline on two levels that stops abruptly. Like a ski-jump into the unknown.

It’s along these celluloid roads, and off the edge of this high arc, that Beth (Christine Devaney) will go in pursuit of . . . Of what, exactly? Only she can say – but maybe she’s not sure either. Not able to put a name to the impulse that makes her sud-denly walk out on her life, her friends, her partner, Jim – though the postcard, prised from her dead fingers, suggests she was on her way back. Fate and a car crash put paid to that reconciliation. Seeing this a second time round – I reviewed it last November at the MacRobert Arts Centre in Stirling – didn’t just affirm all the mixing-of-media strengths, I applauded them. It allowed me to focus more on the subtle details in Mark Murphy’s dark and brooding study of what happens when someone goes missing, Without Trace. For though it’s Beth and her vanishing which is the core event, the other characters – Jim (James Hewison), her friend Anna (Annie Gilpin), Glen, the driver who picks her up – are marked by her leaving and their sense of bewilderment and betrayal is caught in some of the most expressive choreography and text. I’ll admit to a certain dread when it was announced that Stephen Barclay White had stepped into the role of Glen at very short notice, but he not only had the technique to cope with Murphy’s intense, exacting choreography, he also understood the emotional dynamic within those moves. As does Graham Cunnington’s yowling, thrashing soundscore – it still makes me flinch, but it is absolutely right for this searing, unsettling production from V-TOL.