Dance Without Trace
22 November 1999
an amalgam of memories, fantasies, and secrets that (as written by Spencer Hazel and delivered by two on-stage actors) is wise enough to know that some questions can’t ever be fully answered, just as some yearnings can’t ever be truly satisfied.
ON SCREEN there is this woman who is running away. We see her alone in open countryside or barefoot on beaches, the tide eddying round her ankles. We see her hitching lifts with strangers.
And in flashbacks, we see her leaving home; the moment of casual goodbye that gives Jim, her partner, no inkling whatsoever that she will not be coming back. These film images are, if you like, the external story. The backdrop and context to Beth’s going. Cutting into these images – sometimes coexisting with them – is the dance: edgy, electric, driven movement which reflects the wrenching anxieties and hurts that are the internal landscape of these characters. And acting as a bridge between these outer and inner states is occasional spoken text, an amalgam of memories, fantasies, and secrets that (as written by Spencer Hazel and delivered by two on-stage actors) is wise enough to know that some questions can’t ever be fully answered, just as some yearnings can’t ever be truly satisfied. This, at its most fundamental level, is the mix that choreographer/film-maker and director Mark Murphy draws together in his latest work for V-TOL. It’s a mix that he’s been moving towards, with increasing confidence and sureness of touch since the early nineties, but now he has the skill – and the technology – to reveal complex emotional and psychological journeys through the cunning overlaps and layering of images. It’s especially powerful when, for instance, a live character is seen dancing ”inside” a projected self, or when the set – a sweeping curve on two levels – is washed over by footage of the four characters in other locations. Graham Cunnington’s score – played live – is full of nerve-jangling clamour and bluesy wailings that assault the eardrums but are well in keeping with the questing, unresolved ache that judders through this intriguing piece.