Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me)
  • By M Johnson
  • |
  • 9th Sep 2015
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  • ★★★★★

I have never before been moved from laughing to tears pouring down my face – in the space of one sentence – until I saw this piece. This is a phenomenal show that draws a huge amount of pathos out of a dusty text. Using a combination of exciting choreography and storytelling that begins casual and becomes heart-wrenching, the solo performer simply produces a bold and beautiful retelling of Milton’s Paradise Lost that is equal parts thoughtful, comic and tragic.

God, guides us through the creation of something that you care for, because what else do you do when you are presented with a blank space and then the sudden responsibility that brings. Through this lens the complexity of the creation of heaven and the angels becomes suddenly understandable and comparable. You know what it feels like to love Lucifer best because he shows a more spirit and less grovelling than the rest of the angels, and you feel bitter betrayal when he betrays you. So after everything is destroyed and God decides to try creation again - with man – you know what he is going though, and would have made the same mistakes as him. You feel sympathy for God. That is not a sentence I thought I would ever write.

The performance is utterly endearing, unexpectedly charming and delightful. God appears to be part engineer, part clumsy clown and all slightly dysfunctional father figure, who always intends to do the right thing, but don’t always know what that is. A simultaneously amusing and sad character who is quintessentially human. The material demands a lot of the choreography, these are dance pieces that have to convey the entirety of creation, of angels, mankind, heaven and earth but also the destruction of heaven, the fall of angels and mankind. The choreography rises to this challenge using contained energy and simple angular, finicky moments for creation – which conveys the detail, repetition and analysis of construction. However, the destructive dances were absolutely phenomenal, particularly the battle of the angels, where the style becomes fluidly angelic and violently aggressive, as God is seemingly everywhere on stage – his endless description of the battle becoming the heartbeat that the audience cling too as everything is destroyed. Lucifer falling from heaven is an image that will haunt me for a long time.

The design of the show was magnificent. The effects were unexpected and spectacular, adding a whole new level to the production. The sound design was familiar yet sensational, and the lighting design was at simple, and powerfully effective.

This was a mesmerising show, which contained witty storytelling, visually stunning dance, woven together into a heart-breaking and poignant adaptation of such a well-known text.

Reviews by M Johnson

Assembly Roxy

Thor and Loki

★★★
Paradise in The Vault

Quines

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Teviot

Grace

★★
Summerhall

Status

★★★
Zoo Southside

A Life on the Silk Road

★★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

She-Wolves

★★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

London’s boldest dance theatre brings hit shows to the Fringe. Lost Dog’s restaging of the creation of everything. Inspired by Milton’s epic poem with less words, more dance and never before seen levels of divine incompetence. A show for anyone who has ever created anything (a child, a garden, a paper aeroplane) and then had to watch that wonderful thing spiral out of control. As God himself once said 'in the beginning it all seemed like such a good idea.' ‘A strikingly elegant and funny piece of dance theatre’ **** (Guardian on Like Rabbits).