How do we start a conversation about a better future without sounding like dreamers? This is the question that Joan Clevillé Dance’s
An electric, heart-breaking narrative
Joan Clevillé and Soléne Weinachter use their bodies and voices to display an unyielding optimism in the face of hopelessness, inviting the audience, too, to emulate this drive. The optimism displayed by Weinachter especially is constant, even becoming grating at times. It is, the piece seems to say, we who create our own happiness, our own Utopia. The performance is about never giving up hope, about picking up the pieces of a broken dream, and about persevering with human relationships.
This on stage relationship is electric. The chemistry between Clevillé and Weinachter crackles as they dance together and discuss the future through small moments of dialogue, and at one point, a charmingly executed list of fears. It is smaller moments like these that really gives the performance its integrity; indeed, I would have happily watched an hour-long piece consisting of merely their dance, storytelling and dialogue.
The piece does lose some of its power and focus in trying to be too many things. While the idea of the performance is to translate large global challenges into the more manageable and accessible language of physical performance, ironically the nature of the piece makes some moments inaccessible. It switches hastily between on-the-nose lines directly conveying philosophies, to largely impenetrable sequences of physical theatre which are slow and harder to watch.
Plan B For Utopia is certainly a production, then, for those who enjoy the postmodern. However, despite a few inaccessible moments, it is also for those who enjoy a moving love story. It challenges and pushes the boundaries between theatre and dance, in doing so creating an electric, heart-breaking narrative. The question that we are left with is: when your hopes and plans come crashing down, “do you pick up the pieces and try again?”.