Creature

Creature is a contemporary dance show that tries to capture the essence of being human through what the publicity calls ‘aerial acrobatics and earth-bound choreography’. This is not the only intriguing quality promised by the show’s marketing – around Edinburgh you might have noticed the company’s wonderful posters depicting a person inside a huge dimly lit orb. However, exciting expectations are not delivered. Creature seeks to inhabit the space between flying and falling: unfortunately it remains firmly immobile.

Lacklustre and often messy, Creature is saved by occasional moments of grace and elegance.

To be fair to Vanessa Cook, the creator behind the project, Creature opens well. The low levels of lighting give just enough illumination for the audience to make out the orb of the poster in one corner of the stage, occupied by an embryonic human. This is an immediately captivating, mysterious image. Then we have darkness, and notice the faint silhouettes of three people dangling from the theatre’s rig. This too is excellent, and as the figures slowly descend, wriggling and squirming, the lights come up and they eventually reach the stage. A positive to note here is that the performance takes the time it needs to develop its opening. Dance theatre, especially with elements of circus acrobatics, can all too often rush headlong into a high-energy set piece designed to provoke gasps from audiences, so I respect and admire the slow, considered approach taken by Creature, which works marvellously.

But from this point onwards, the production reveals itself to be seriously flawed and structurally incoherent. The beauty of the meditative beginning gives way to a sequence that relies on visual clichés. We have an unoriginal spawning scene, an awakening passage with some admittedly interesting shadow-play before we are jolted into what appears to be a fight scene involving all members of the ensemble. We skip from random segment to random segment, punctuated by a few effective displays of artistry (there is a particularly satisfying instant in which two performers form the vertical mirror image of the other), but ultimately the performance feels too disparate and empty to achieve its ambitions. That being said, the production does manage to close in style with the orb of the poster finally reappearing after its opening cameo and being put to good use.

Lacklustre and often messy, Creature is saved by occasional moments of grace and elegance.

Reviews by Sam Fulton

Pleasance Dome

The Paper Cinema's Macbeth

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Speaking in Tongues: The Lies

★★★
Scottish Storytelling Centre

Fuaigh – Interweaving

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Phil Wang: Kinabalu

★★★★
Scottish Storytelling Centre

Turntable / Edinburgh

★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Me, as a Penguin

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Five extraordinary dancers weave aerial acrobatics and earth-bound choreography in a new work of compelling and visceral dance theatre. Visually stunning, suspended in a mesmerising soundscape, raw and beautiful, Creature explores the delicate balance between flying, falling, balancing, tumbling, succeeding and failing: this complex business of being human. A unique free fall experience for both performers and audience, it happens right in front of us, over us, and around us. UK Premiere from international company based in Switzerland. Creature is conceived and choreographed by Vanessa Cook (UK) and directed by Kate Higginbottom (UK). ‘Breathtaking… Poetic… Gripping’ (Berner Zeitung).