Posted: November 18th, 2016 | Author: Ian Abbott | Filed under: Performance | Tags: Dance Umbrella, i ride in colour and soft focus no longer anywhere, Jackie Shemesh, Jamila Johnson-Small, Rich Mix | Comments Off on Jamila Johnson-Small, i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere
Jamila Johnson-Small, i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere, Rich Mix, October 9
Jamila Johnson-Small in i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere (photo: Foteini Christofilopoulou)
“We need limitations and temptations to open our inner selves, dispel our ignorance, tear off disguises, throw down old idols, and destroy false standards.” – Helen Keller
What happens when an edge is invited to the centre?
Jamila Johnson-Small premiered her new solo work i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere at this year’s Dance Umbrella. Prior to the festival she was the subject of an in-depth portrait by Lyndsey Winship where Johnson-Small said: “I guess I still have my fantasies about not selling out.” Having encountered some of her other collaborative performance guises (Project O and immigrants and animals) I was curious to see the distillation of a solo voice and how it would manifest.
There’s a tension when an edge meets a centre. Nearly a month after I left Johnson-Small’s performance at Rich Mix I’m still carrying it, unable to shift it; there’s something inside this work that will not settle. It’s a work of resistance. One thing that tingles is the still image of Johnson-Small’s back as she is lying on the floor, head nestled in her arms, facing the same way as the projected images we’re watching. Her choice to stay on the stage, to be still and not remove herself from our gaze stays with me. This is her domain and we are guests who are fleetingly present and then disappear; she will remain. The projected film is full of deconstructed limbs twitching, rotating and removed from the baby-pink hooded torso of the architect of our experience. The edge and centre are in play again.
“The need for change bulldozed a road down the centre of my mind.” – Maya Angelou
The lighting design by Jackie Shemesh tightly frames Johnson-Small for the first 25 minutes, isolating her body and framing legs and torso with hands bobbing amongst the shards of sidelight. Existing in a one-metre radius of space Johnson-Small is a groove finder and beat rider with a muted knee bounce despite encouragement from the score emanating from the towering sound system like a stage left shadow. With an 8-foot space rock fixed and glinting stage right the scenography and performance slowly suffocate the space.
What do you do when you meet a wall? How do you navigate it? This is what I’ve been wrestling with and I’m left in a void of emotion; I’m unsure which way my response faces. A resistance and tension were present and there’s the smell of a bristling Beckett character who is here yet not here, who acknowledges us but doesn’t necessarily want us to be here. However, something keeps whirring. i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere is hard to define. It’s not full of virtuosic or pre-supposed ideas of beautiful dancing; it’s numbed, reflecting different emotional states and different ways of being in this world.
“The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps.” – Bob Black
Although it may feel like a stand-off with neither of us yielding attention, I think what I’ve encountered is an archive of the self. How does Johnson-Small not let her edge be pulled to the centre but still accept the offer and associated profile that comes with a premiere at Dance Umbrella? How do I let i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere enter my own archive? It’s currently resisting the established classification, so maybe I need to build a new space for it — closer to the edge.
Posted: October 6th, 2016 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Performance | Tags: Arthur Pita, Jackie Shemesh, Luis F. Carvalho, Michael Hulls, Natalia Osipova, Qutb, Run Mary Run, Russell Maliphant, Sadler's Wells, Sergei Polunin, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Silent Echo | Comments Off on Natalia Osipova, Three Commissions
Natalia Osipova, Three commissions, Sadler’s Wells, October 1
Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin in Arthur Pita’s Run Mary Run (photo: Tristram Kenton)
Natalia Osipova is a dancer I could happily watch in any performance. Brought up in the Russian classical tradition, a supreme technician and dramatic presence, she is at home in the classical repertoire but itching to broaden her scope as an artist. Without retracting that opening statement, this evening of contemporary work for Osipova at Sadler’s Wells falls somewhere short of my anticipation. The issue is who commissioned this triple bill — first seen here in June — and why. Sadler’s Wells’ chief executive and artistic director, Alistair Spalding, suggests in the program’s welcome note that Sadler’s Wells commissioned the works, which happen to include two by Sadler’s Wells associate artists: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Russell Maliphant. In Sarah Crompton’s overview of the evening in the same program she makes it appear that Osipova commissioned the works. But if she did, why so early in her drive to broaden her horizons would she commission new works from choreographers she has already worked with (Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Arthur Pita) so recently? And is Russell Maliphant’s choreographic process likely to expand Osipova’s artistic range? I don’t think so. No, it is unlikely Osipova commissioned these works but has instead lent her name and talent — along with those of her partner Sergei Polunin — to the evening in return for the creation of three works brokered for her by Sadler’s Wells. It’s a compromise in which neither party comes off particularly well artistically; Osipova is not challenged enough because the works fall short of providing her with a vehicle for her scope. Cherkaoui’s Qutb thinks about it in philosophical terms but delivers a trio in which Osipova’s desire for flight is constantly grounded and smothered by the overpowering physique of Jason Kittelberger and in which the only (rather uninteresting) solo is given to James O’Hara. Qutb is Arabic for ‘axis’ but the axis of the work is Kittelberger not Osipova. Some commission.
Maliphant’s Silent Echo without the lighting would be like watching Osipova and Polunin consummately messing around in the studio. Maliphant’s choreography is so totally dependent on the lighting of Michael Hulls (a dependence that has become derivative) that any artistic development for the dancers is merely subordinate to the Maliphant/Hulls formula; the greatest hurdle for them is to dance on the edges of darkness.
Pita’s Run Mary Run is the only work in which Osipova and Polunin have roles to explore; Pita puts them centre stage in a musical narrative of love, sex, drugs and death to the songs of the 60’s girl group, The Shangri-Las. Known for their ‘splatter platters’ with lyrics about failed teenage relationships, Pita invests Run Mary Run with a theme of love from beyond the grave that he can’t resist associating — in the opening scene of two arms intertwining as they emerge from a grave — with Giselle. But Osipova’s persona is closer to Amy Winehouse (whose album Back to Black was inspired by The Shangri-Las and whose life Pita cites as the major influence for the work), and Polunin in his jeans, white tee shirt, black leather jacket and dark glasses is more like bad-boy Marlon Brando than a remorseful duke. While Pita’s narrative mirrors the destructive relationships in Winehouse’s life, the romantic elements of raunchy duets, flirtatious advances and feral solos feed off the partnership of the two dancers. Pita is pulling out of them elements of their own lives and putting the audience in the privileged position of voyeurs; we are living their emotions in the moment. This gives the work its edge and inevitable attraction. The colourful lightness of Run Mary Run — thanks to costumes and sets by Luis F. Carvalho and lighting by Jackie Shemesh — thus reveals a genuine heart that saves the work from its dark parody. But such is the nature of the heart that Run Mary Run may only succeed with these two protagonists.
Pita’s work is a step in the right direction for Osipova, as is the idea of her performing works outside her comfort zone. But if she really wants to find works that allow her more than an opportunity to dance a different vocabulary, she needs to find choreographers able and sensitive enough to fulfill her full potential by creating enduring works that are irrevocably stamped with her technical ability and personality.
Posted: May 30th, 2016 | Author: Ian Abbott | Filed under: Performance | Tags: Aaron Nuttall, Adam Peck, Avant Garde Dance, Dani Harris-Walters, Fagin's Twist, Jackie Shemesh, Jemima Brown, Joshua James Smith, Lisa Hood, Maxwell Golden, Tony Adigun, Yann Seabra | Comments Off on Avant Garde Dance, Fagin’s Twist
Avant Garde Dance in Fagin’s Twist (photo: Rachel Cherry)
“But struggling with these better feelings was pride — the vice of the lowest and most debased creatures no less than of the high and self-assured.” – Charles Dickens
Avant Garde Dance (AG) has been going “against the grain” for the last 15 years under the auspices of artistic director, Tony Adigun. Having seen more than a dozen of their outdoor and indoor works, commissioned them to work on large-scale performances integrating community casts of 100 people, to working with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra on the iconic performance Vesalii Icones by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, I awaited with curiosity the skewing of a Dickens classic.
Fagin’s Twist, co-produced by The Place, is AG’s largest tour to date with over 40 performances across 2016 and substantial support from Arts Council England and other co-commissioning partners. Working with the writer Maxwell Golden and dramaturg Adam Peck, the audience is presented with a simple storyboard narrative that focuses on Fagin (Joshua James Smith) forging in the workhouse, his adventures in the lair and his ultimate undoing by young master Twist.
Opening with the full company (8 dancers) rotating, snaking and snapping whilst passing a mid-size white hat box between them exposes an early weakness as the ability to blend prop handling and movement restricts them and doesn’t allow them the anatomical freedom to focus or execute with the required conviction. Slipping between theatre, hip hop styles and contemporary dance we’re introduced to a krumping Bill Sykes (Dani Harris-Walters), a breaking Artful Dodger (Aaron Nuttall) and a contemporary Nancy (Lisa Hood). Stylistically these fit their character traits — in the first act the jittery physical vocabulary and nimble b-boy flourishes of Nuttall add a depth of character as he breaks the fourth wall with a set of welcome narrations which aid the re-telling. Smith has also a certain dash about him, like a fencer darting across the stage with able command of both body and voice. With the five leads including Oliver Twist (Jemima Brown) mic’ed up we unfortunately see a lacklustre physicality seeping into the vocal performances; a lack of conviction in both body and voice, and an inconsistency across the two acts (this is the 12th performance on tour) caused my interest to wane.
The first act is a series of establishing speeches twinned with tutting and hip hop routines delving into Fagin, his gradual acceptance by Sykes, their joint escape, finding the lair and the introduction of Oliver. With a second act full of stage choreography for exposition purposes, the character definition breaks down and we are left with 8 moving bodies who’ve seemingly forgotten their original intentions and emotional relationships with each other. With a recurring motif of a low-crouched, puppet-armed jump that hints at A Clockwork Orange, the pack often comes together before splitting off into duets and trios that fall very close to “hip hop as mime” territory. There’s a fine line between showing a story and keeping the audience on the outside and telling a story and pulling us in.
“When I first read ‘On the Road,’ it helped me figure out how to live against the grain. Now I wonder how to be subversive when the subversive has become mainstream.” – Tony D’souza
I see a number of biographical echoes where you could replace Fagin with Adigun; having started life outside the system he recruits a merry band of accomplices who begin to scratch a living together. Success comes slowly as he is embraced by others, but responsibility weighs heavy for the health of the unit whilst younger and hungrier insiders begin to splinter as he takes his eye off his pocket watch. However, after 15 years can you continually go against the grain? Pushing doors open for others takes a lot of energy and being swallowed by the mainstream that is slowly de-teething and sanding the edges that made them want you in the first place is a tricky position for Adigun to hold. Akram Khan serves as a warning/inspiration.
Fagin’s Twist offers an entertaining night out for those new to dance theatre who might be a little Dickens curious and there’s a slick production mask scaffolding the work. Jackie Shemesh’s lighting design casts elongated shadows, hiding faces and bodies in the half-light whilst Yann Seabra’s set offers nooks, levels and holes for the dancers to weave and scuttle about in.
However, if it’s going to sing loud in the autumn tour and emerge as a signature work, then some dramaturgical repairs are in order to build bonds with the audience so we can begin to care rather than watching blunt fireworks; dancers should fill and execute their characters whilst injecting a consistent musicality into their performances and Adigun needs to bring some abrasion and grit back into his choreography.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller
Posted: November 5th, 2015 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Performance | Tags: Adam Gain, Alexander Whitley, Amanda Barrow, Andrew Graham, Beheld, Candoco Dance Company, CounterActs, Eva Martinez, Hetain Patel, Jackie Shemesh, Jean-Marc Puissant, Jessica Dixon, Joel Brown, Laura Patay, Let's Talk About Dis, Megan Armishaw, Tanja Erhart, Toki Broni Strandby, Valentina Golfieri | Comments Off on Candoco Dance Company, CounterActs
Candoco Dance Company, CounterActs, Laban Theatre, October 8
Candoco dancers in Alexander Whitley’s Beheld (photo: Hugo Glendinning)
There is something remarkable in the way Candoco’s dancers bring out the best in the choreographers they work with and how the choreographers bring out the best in the dancers. CounterActs is no exception, a chance to see again Hetain Patel’s witty Let’s Talk About Dis and to see a new work, Beheld, by Alexander Whitley. It is the latter that catches my attention immediately as I arrive late to see the end of a duet between Joel Brown and Adam Gain. Its virtuosity — especially from Brown in his wheelchair — and spatial ingenuity set the tone for the solo by Tanja Erhart that follows. Whitley does not so much create steps for Erhart as carve dynamic space around her; she is often in silhouette like a shadow puppet with her supports, revealing shapes that are starkly beautiful. The screen behind her, conceived by Jean-Marc Puissant and realised by Jessica Dixon and Amanda Barrow, is made up of four panels of stretched elastic material that looks like a silver metal barrier under Jackie Shemesh’s cool lighting but the dancers behind it bring it alive by pressing their faces and hands into it and lure Erhart towards them. As she approaches in a dream-like state — a quality the music of Nils Frahm conjures up beautifully — she abandons her crutches and presses herself into the material, invisibly supported on its vertical surface as if on water. Erhart shines in this subtle transference of weight and strength until the surface tension eventually gives way and the whole thing comes rippling down around her.
Whitley writes about his current interest in ‘how choreographic ideas can be extended into material forms beyond the body.’ The material the dancers handle in the opening (which thanks to the company I later saw on video) and later sections is a metaphor for bringing out not their differences but what binds them together; in their handling of the material they are all on the same footing and Whitley weaves this equality into playful, complex choreographic patterns.
Another achievement in Whitley’s work is its virtuosity, particularly in Brown’s duet with Gain where he spins on to his back in his wheelchair with a speed and precision that matches Gain; when the latter raises his legs over his head, Brown does the same effortlessly with his wheelchair. With his powerful torso and arms Brown makes his wheelchair subservient to his virtuosity until it becomes almost invisible. Beheld is a work that brings the company together in ways I haven’t seen before in Candoco’s repertoire and in doing so Whitley makes the company look brilliant.
In Let’s Talk About Dis (a witty reference perhaps to DV8’s Can We Talk About This?) Patel talks about attitudes to disability with an openness and humour that was missing from Lloyd Newson’s choreographic sermon on attitudes to multiculturalism. Patel’s idea of Let’s Talk About Dis is to throw all our preconceptions about disability up in the air, play with them, redefine them and let them fall back to the ground of our understanding. He takes his time to set the scene as the dancers wander on, take off their shoes and carefully mark out a square with white tape, a space in which a game of political correctness will be played by the home team on its home ground. Patel’s text, like all his works, is meticulously scripted and shaped (Eva Martinez helped with the dramaturgy); he loves voices both for what they say about the world and for what they say about the person. In his own solo shows he takes on any number of voices himself but here he has gifted his voice to the dancers and, like Whitley’s material, it allows them to compete on equal terms. As a gifted mimic Patel knows his way into the life behind the voice and by listening to the dancers’ stories and their banter he brings out their lives through their words, filtering their offerings through a sense of humour that verges on the absurd. The masterful trio of Toke Broni Strandby mis-translating into English Laura Patay’s story in French about what children have said about her missing arm with Andrew Graham signing in BSL is a like a Mozart aria in its witty complexity and beauty while Erhart relating her sex education in vocal harmony with Strandby is both poignant and gives the signers some hilarious moments. Patel succeeds in talking about dis, or more importantly getting the dancers to talk about dis, in a way that demystifies it, that breaks down barriers. The dancers look relaxed in Valentina Golfieri’s costumes and under Shemesh’s lighting as if their personalities have come dancing into the light, but as Gain says at the end, ‘We’re going to keep talking about it until we don’t need to keep talking about it.’
CounterActs at Dance East in Ipswich next week is sold out, but the company will be performing it again at the Bristol Old Vic on February 12, 2016
Posted: August 5th, 2012 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Performance | Tags: Ben Duke, Chris Evans, Holly Waddington, Home for Broken Turns, Ino Riga, It Needs Horses, Jackie Shemesh, James Keane, Laura Pena, Lise Manavit, Lost Dog, Raquel Meseguer, Sita Ostheimer, Solene Weinachter | Comments Off on Lost Dog: Circus diptych at the Almeida Festival
Lost Dog, It Needs Horses and Home for Broken Turns, Almeida Theatre July 28
The Almeida Theatre has a stage like the apse of an old, disused church with stripped plaster walls that adapts perfectly to the circus ring of Lost Dog’s It Needs Horses with its wooden boarding in a semi-circle around the perimeter, beautifully lit by Jackie Shemesh. A rudimentary trapeze hangs to one side. Because of a last minute injury, Sita Ostheimer is replacing Anna Finkel. She has had only one day to learn it all, but at least she knows her partner, Chris Evans. Only weeks before they were performing as a couple in search of an idea in a lighthearted work, Accompany, for the Hofesh Schechter evening, In Good Company.
Drum roll. Cymbals. Lights up. Nothing. Ostheimer is standing on the trapeze as if she has been left there overnight, dressed in a rather seedy grey body suit with shiny, silver embroidered breastplates and crotch, a feather headdress and a rather mangy tail. Her face is painted white, her haunted eyes smudged black by tears, and her mouth enlarged by more than one application of lipstick. Evans, the ringmaster, in slightly better state, stands below her in the ring in yellow and red jester tights, white tee shirt and bowler hat (both costumes pulled lovingly out of an old circus bin by Holly Waddington) looking at his partner with a measure of contempt and futility, his shoulders bowed by impending defeat. His bearded, white face and expressive black eyes urge her to perform. Her eyes plead with the audience: she can’t get down. She whimpers a few notes of a song and Evans takes off his hat for contributions. Laughter, but no money from the crowd. He puts his bowler back on and helps Ostheimer slither down from her perch. The band starts up, and they begin a surprisingly energetic music hall routine as if on automatic, playing off each other’s rundown state until she falls. He continues dancing, trying to heave her back into action as part of the routine, kicks her to the music, pulls her, but she’s out for the count. Rushing to fill the ever-widening gap between expectation and fulfillment, the grim Evans tries juggling his pirate knives and apples, bungling both. He mimes in quick succession smoking a cigarette, fishing for the big one and steering a car, which he drives, and then reverses, over Ostheimer’s body, still to no effect. His last fragment is swimming, but the game is up. He offers his hat. Nothing.
Turning his attention back to Ostheimer, he runs his finger down her tail and miouws. He sits her up and feels her zipper. He unzips her enough to pull off one shoulder of her costume. As excited as he is inspired, he sits behind her and manipulates her hands like a puppet to caress her own breasts and thighs, then gets carried away by rubbing her crotch with animal passion. Aroused, she wakes up and hits him in the chest and then as they both get up, kicks him in the backside. All kinds of energy are beginning to flow. They struggle, the band strikes up again and they vaguely remember where they are. Continuing their routine to a crackly, slow foxtrot, she jumps in his arms but he tries to undress her more. She hits him again, knees him; he has his arms round her neck: a real catfight. She pulls his tee shirt off and thinking this might be the moment he pulls his tights down to his knees. His white Y-fronts look as if they have been washed rather too recently. Both parties catch their breath as they take stock of the situation. Whatever is going on has less and less to do with a desperately failing circus act and more to do with laying bare the emotions coursing behind the makeup and costumes: the frustration, the sexual energy, the passion, the madness, the fading dream.
Ostheimer takes the initiative, coyly slipping off her tail and launching into a sinuous display of unbridled libido as Evans remains rooted to the spot playing a muted mouth trumpet to her undulations. Her act really gets going, mouth wide open in animal abandon with associated guttural sounds, hands all over her body, her tongue on fire. She pulls Evans down on all fours and energetically humps him from behind with appropriate vocals. Ever the opportunist, Evans offers his hat for contributions. Nothing. He knocks her over, picks up one of his knives and puts it to her throat. He must regain control of his act, but she is all he has. To a simple musical theme that grows in emotional intensity and orchestration, he gets her running around the ring like a horse, to which he responds as ringmaster cracking his whip and whistling. He launches into a solo of excitement bordering on abandon, then joins Ostheimer jumping exuberantly around the ring though she is beginning to look and sound exhausted. She stops and won’t continue. He threatens her with the knife, but she is beyond being threatened. She walks off and he remains in the centre of the ring, letting the knife drop at the beginning of a final fitful dance of frustration leading inexorably to collapse.
It Needs Horses, conceived and directed by Ben Duke and Raquel Meseguer, won the 2011 Place Prize. It is performed here as part of the Almeida Festival with a second, consecutive work, Home for Broken Turns, which is conceived, directed and choreographed by Duke himself. It is, in Duke’s own words, a work in progress, though more advanced than the day before.
There is no program for the evening, so we are left to figure it out. First is the transition: a trio of girls (Lise Manavit, Ino Riga and Solène Weinachter) clean up the knives and apples and assorted clothes from the ring to an ethereal banjo score (by James Keane); they dismantle the perimeter boards, stacking them neatly at the back. On a bare stage a fourth girl (Laura Pena), dressed to look older in country clothes of a distinctly Latin American flavor, plants herself authoritatively centre stage, legs apart, cigar in mouth, calling incessantly and distraughtly for ‘Anna’. The other three girls, similarly dressed, unfold two sun chairs and seat a skeleton in one with a bottle of wine. They then unroll a black road with a white-painted centre line along the front of the stage. This is the link to the outside world. Ostheimer stumbles along this road like a ghost, still in her costume. Perhaps she was making her way here at the end of It Needs Horses, but she doesn’t seem to recognize the place and passes unnoticed: the three girls are too involved in their wild harvest dance to look up. She returns from the other direction, crosses the stage and is gone again. The sound of an approaching bus catches the girls’ attention, bringing them expectantly to the side of the road with a begging bowl, speaking French and Spanish. No luck. The girls berate their imaginary customers, asking one after the other for money, a bus ticket, or a pen, while the cigar-smoking, gap-toothed matriarch – we’ll call her Mama – at the back keeps a constant eye on the proceedings. A gentleman evidently asks one of the girls if Anna lives there. No, désolée. One girl expresses frustration bordering on madness, the second girl comforts her, and the third is just pulsing with pent-up emotion. After the bus has gone, Ostheimer walks by again. Is she Anna? It is not clear, but we will assume so. There is a cockerel on a tall pole in the yard to which Mama prays in forcefully pious Spanish. One girl plays distractedly at riding a horse, a second drives a car that crashes. Another bus stops, but nobody gets off. Mama says life is like a shit biscuit and each day we eat a little bit of it, then she collapses from lack of food and a loss of hope; two of her girls try to revive her, turning her upside down and throwing her to the third, but Mama slides down her body to the floor. Anna drifts back along the road like a vision, and this time the girls grab her and throw her in the direction of the matriarch, who has a catatonic fit in voluble Spanish and the vision is carried off just before another bus arrives – this is a busy thoroughfare. Mama says I’m sorry, Papito veni, but with a gesture of resignation, picks up a chair and the bottle of wine and settles at the back. One of the girls barks, which sets off the pack of girls barking at passers by (where did they all come from?), and when they aren’t barking they’re smiling and begging for coca-cola, a fag or bubble gum, raising their skirts, and offering their favours. Two of the girls dance a desperate duo while the third moves sensuously, practicing the tongue gymnastics we saw in the ring earlier. This is evidently where it is all learned, the school of desperate performance. The girls monitor each other’s progress and success, both of which seem limited. Mama is now drunk and breaks up the party. The girls pretend to ply the skeleton with drink and wrap its bony arms around Mama: a macabre variation on the dance of the dead to a ghostly piano variation on the Pink Panther theme. The skeleton’s arms smack her backside then grab her from behind, doggy position – another image we have seen earlier in the ring – until a roaring, throaty climax. One of the girls removes the skeleton and takes Mama back to her chair; a second rehearses another dance of seduction while a third, hands gripped and fingers tense, dances on one leg. Anna is back again, and this time the three girls follow her in a reverential line on their knees, hand to ankle, but they can’t keep up. On Anna’s return Mama finally greets her, kisses her, hugs her. “Anna?”, she asks. Anna kisses her and retreats. The girls look to where Anna left, then gather up Mama for a ritual peasant dance to an earthy drum rhythm.
Graduation time has arrived, and one of the girls is chosen to dress up. She puts on her headdress, and slips out of her jeans and top into a costume exactly like Anna’s. How do I look?, she seems to ask, proudly. She leaves along the fateful road, another graduate on her way into an uncertain world, and meets Anna coming in the other direction. They stare at each other. The desperate cycle is completed, and repeats.
After seeing It Needs Horses, there is a sense that Home for Broken Turns is related (if only because the Ostheimer character reappears in it) but the stylistic relation is more difficult to see. Going from one to the other is like going from the structural tautness and poetry of a Beckett play to a narrative in a nineteenth century novel, of which most is in a foreign language with a high level of emotional distortion. The first has coalesced as a form, has found its particular place and character, and is complete in itself, while the second is still searching for its identity, like the characters themselves. Home for Broken Turns is for now an emotional outpouring of an imaginary precedent for an uncertain future, a bringing together of past, present and future in an inflammable alliance of passion and despair: a vibrant, gutsy performance in search of its true form.