Phrases is an inventive and open-minded solo performance from dance artist Lewys Holt, honouring and making space for the confusion and miscommunication which we often seek to avoid. The show blends movement with recorded sound and a stream-of-consciousness Powerpoint, to create a funny, nuanced exploration of the difficulties surrounding self-expression and overthinking. Layers of meaning are built through an array of short episodes, which interweave the story of a metaphor taken too literally, too far.
Holt’s movement is playful and absorbing
Holt’s movement is playful and absorbing; it's precisely-timed relationship to the projection makes for brilliantly relatable comedy. I must admit, at the beginning of the show I was concerned the performance might be so abstract I would not be able to understand it, but it is now absolutely clear that this is an intrinsic part of the show. As a solo performer, Holt holds the room with confidence and ease. Small helpings of low pressure audience participation create the feeling that we are all rolling around an ethereal space of linguistic confusion together. He slips easily in and out of movement and more traditional verbal storytelling in an intelligent and witty narrative.
The show is well-constructed into small chunks, perfectly digestible for those new to slightly more abstract forms of performance art. A pre-prepared Powerpoint is smartly incorporated to add further layers to the performance, allowing captions to interplay with movement, characterising the complex relationship between thoughts, feelings, and the words we choose to express them. No attempt is made to hide the mechanics of the performance, right down to selecting the sound files to play, which makes the whole experience seem particularly raw and genuine. As a collection of mini-episodes which exist in their own right, the non-linear structure allows for multiple tangents and angles on the theme to build into a layered and increasingly complicated series of ideas and questions.
Unpretentious, honest and thought-provoking, Holt offers a wonderful study in overthinking. Phrases is acutely observed and hugely enjoyable, revealing the joys of jump head-first into confusion and misunderstanding.