Isobel Cohen’s production “Within Range” is based on the chaotic era surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Gritty and raw, this show doesn’t pull any punches.
The structure of the dance/theatre hybrid attempts to detangle the sickly web of informers, victims and communist institutional orders. Matt Reynolds plays the lead villain in the production, whilst the other actors – Isobel Cohen, Shahla Tarrant and Neil Fleming Brown – intermittently play suspects or collaborators.
The scenes generally escalate, though without an overarching storyline. This gives the audience a sense of falling down the rabbit hole where at the bottom there is no answer, only pain. Additionally, the content is dry and bitingly sarcastic, thus audience members are left feeling simultaneously amused and bemused.
The entire cast participate in the excellent choreography in the show. Counting on the audience’s bewilderment, the first piece of choreography combines “secret handshake” movements with contemporary bobbing and weaving – throwing subtleties out the window in this slightly absurdist dance of trench coat-clad cast members. As interrogation techniques are introduced, the contemporary dancing becomes more fraught as the emotional and mental capacities of the victims diminish. A wonderful juxtaposition of a violent and frightful pas de deux dance/fight scene between Shahla Tarrant and Neil Fleming Brown, compared to the same couple dancing a folksy but rebellious-fuelled dance under the heading “State Condoned Leisure”. The audience members hold their breath during a water torture scene, in a powerful choreographic climax of contemporary mixed with elements of hip-hop.
A few technical difficulties interfere with dialogue, and at points the audience is left a little too confused with the constantly changing narrative. Additionally, there is no opportunity for the audience to emotionally invest in any of the characters, thus the most crucial narrative milestones fail to move. With a little more polishing, Isobel Cohen’s production has huge potential.
By Ingrida Dornbrook
17-20 August, 18:10 (19:20) @ Zoo Southside