A sexy minotaur, snakes, crabs, bloodthirsty chefs, seahorses and elephants are just a handful of the things Pilobolus Dance Theater manages to create with little more than silhouettes in this irreverent and completely mental 80-minute piece of shadow theatre.
Confounding our expectations, the American company specialises in dance that mixes contemporary choreography with an astoundingly creative use of shadows – the show’s plot is basically an excuse to make the weirdest things out of them. We meet a girl who shadow dreams and is transported to surreal worlds where she’s turned into a dog, gets a ride in a car, meets a seahorse, is saved by a jellyfish and gets it on with the aforementioned minotaur – all in the best possible taste (though the dancers’ lack of clothing during this sequence is a bit of a stretch for the eight-plus age recommendation).
The dancers move fluidly between the dream world and the real one, even if the reasoning behind when and why this happens feels arbitrary. Still, seeing both shadows and real people on stage does provide welcome clues to how the illusions are created without giving away all their secrets.
Performed to a thumping soundtrack, ‘Shadowland’ doesn’t have much subtlety, or even poetry, it’s more a demonstration of what can be done with a screen, a light and some super-agile people. But just for this, it is impressive. The 12-strong dance troupe are extraordinarily adept at turning the tiniest detail – a slanted finger, a toss of the head – into something totally different as a silhouette.
The large creative team includes ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ writer Steven Banks and there is more than a hint of the cartoonish about this. It’s a colourful, big, entertaining and completely wacky evening.
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