The Devil in the Detail

Review of Richard Alston’s Dance Company at the Northcott 26th Feb

Richard Alston Dance Company perform Devil in the Detail, but Richard Alston.

The show was comprised of three pieces with an interval between each. The first was a revival of one of Alston‘s classic pieces “The Devil in the Detail” based on the music of Scott Joplin. The second was a relatively new piece called “Buzzing round the Hunnisuckle” set to pieces by Jo Kondo. And the last was a brand new piece choreographed by Alston’s protégée, Martin Lawrence, named “Madcap“. The evening was then rounded off with an optional question and answer session with Alston and Lawrence.

The Northcott Theatre was the perfect venue for this show; the proximity to the stage meant that you could hear every breath and every foot landing on the ground. Although this was a little surreal to begin with, it soon began to have a hypnotic quality. The intimacy of the venue combined with the small size of the company meant that the audience were completely involved and focused. Alston said afterwards that the Northcott reminded him of a Greek amphitheatre, and that the curved layout and very open space was perfect for his choreography.

“The Devil in the Detail” was a very fun way of opening the show. The music was played live by a pianist situated downstage right which, again, complemented the intimacy of the venue. The choreography was simple and quirky and the dancers couldn’t help but smile when they caught each others eyes. The show was stolen by a refreshing male duo who caused laughter among the audience with their comical interaction and performance. 2danc

On the other hand, “Buzzing round the Hunnisuckle” was a much heavier piece that did not perhaps suit the taste of all the audience. The static choreography and jarring chords made it an uncomfortable piece to watch. Having said that, it was impossible not to appreciate the intricacy of the moves to fit the music and the precision with which they were carried out. Alston also incorporated long periods of silence, throughout which the choreography continued and stayed perfectly in time, creating a very tense atmosphere and a thoroughly captured audience.

However, the most impressive piece was without a doubt the finale, Lawrence’s “Madcap”.  The athletic ability showed by the performers was unbelievable; it was much more physical, appearing violent at times, and the unusual lifts shown required great strength. The piece never lost its tempo, and the introduction of new sections and dancers was unexpected and shocking each time. Lawrence also impressed in the question and answer discussing his experiences with having deaf parents and his subsequent sensitivity to music.

We loved the show and would highly recommend catching the show on tour, or buying the DVD. Martin Lawrence is definitely one to watch for the future!

Written for Razz by Hannah Patrick and Sophie Littlewood-Horner.

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