Oreo Complex, GENERAL WASTE, COLLIDER. Three short reviews

mood: wealthy. A young black man raises traditional West African cloth to his shoulders. He is surrounded by large gold blocks and more of the same cloth.

Isaac Ouro-Gnao in The Oreo Complex (an extract) at Shiobhan Davies Dance Open Choreography Evening. (c) Carole Edrich November 2019

Oreo Complex excerpt, Isaac Ouro-Gnao

It’s hard to review a piece of work by someone whose development I feel as invested in as I do with Isaac Ouro-Gnao’s ‘Oreo Complex’. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve not been involved in its creation. I’ve followed its development. I believe in the philosophy behind it and in his creative approach. I am privileged because I have watched it grow.

And grow it has. So has my understanding of Isaac’s ultimate vision. It is much more than mere performance. In his words; “part dance, part theatre, part visual arts”.

At one point he carries a heavy burden, expressively, drudgingly but it is conveyed as a matter of pride. At another point, I’m intrigued by his movement. It’s difficult to understand how a body can move so smoothly, especially with the polyrhythms rooted in West African Agbadja and hiphop.

It’s his characterisation that I first found most outstanding. This time round it’s the wonderful word play. Spot on and very moving, both have developed apace. You can see echoes of the feelings in my rehearsal stills. But you’ll lose the depth, the richness of the voice when such is warranted, and how his presence changes. You’ll loose the majestically hymnal quality of his oration, when that comes into play.

The work itself is an attempt to heal identity traumas. Through the telling of West African and Black British history it demonstrates how black people can be in charge of the narrative of their identities. Reclaiming the Oreo, Bounty or Coconut label is intrinsic to both meaning and art. See it when you can. Join me, watch and grow.

Collider, Rebecca Mackenzie

Witness something burst out of nothing. Observation, consideration, humour, narration and movement all come into play. Accompanied by a live soundscape that draws on the rhythms of the universe. This is a wry, sometimes hilarious, well-researched and bathetic combination of spoken word and gesture.

I hope Rebecca performs this far and wide, and don’t want to give out spoilers. From the desperately detailed and important questionnaire to the use of Henry the Hoover to demonstrate the bounds of modern science, I enjoyed every minute. Even with my astrophysics hat on I enjoyed it. The old scientist in me can sometimes make me hypercritical, so that is saying a lot.

General Waste, anthologyofamess

In three excerpts of a larger work, a post-future world where privileges have become meaningless is shown.

Movements of mutuality, reinforced with poetry posits love and poetry as the last weapons in a fight against a mindless subjugating future.

It hurts me, this optimism. The work makes me think, of our country’s current descent into isolationism and bigotry. They may have intended to talk of the future. But it has hit a nerve. I fight back tears. I wish that I could – like them – believe that poetry and unconditional love will be a way out of this mess.

Performers: Antonio de la Fe Michael Picknett and Petra Soor.

Mood: Serious. A traditionally dressed black man reaches towards something unseen, only slivers of his body are clear and that gives a sombre, ghostly effect

Isaac Ouro-Gnao in The Oreo Complex (an extract) at Shiobhan Davies Dance Open Choreography Evening. (c) Carole Edrich November 2019

The Siobhan Davies Dance Open Choreography Performance Evening

Open Choreography Performance Evenings are a chance to experience work-in-progress by selected artists. It is a carefully curated evening where anyone can see varied works-in-progress. Each one is a unique and intimate opportunity to see and give feedback to artists developing work before it goes on to larger venues. The next Open Choreography Performance Evening is on March 6th. Find out more, or book it at https://www.siobhandavies.com/whats-on/performance/open-choreography-performance-evening-mar20/