Void

Void is really intense, in the best possible way. If you're looking for a break from the stand-up comedy and the wordy theatre then get down to The Old Lab in Summerhall, and strap in for 45 minutes of 'experimental dance and abstract glitch-video landscapes.'

An absolutely remarkable display of physicality

It's based on J. G. Ballard's short 1974 novel, Concrete Island, in which a man gets stranded on an intersection between several motorways following a car accident. The producers of Void quote the introduction to the novel in their programme: "We can tyrannise ourselves, test our strengths and weaknesses, perhaps come to terms with aspects of our characters to which we have always closed our eyes." It's pretty deep, dark stuff, and Ballard's source material primes us for scenes of dystopian man-made structures and psychological breakdown.

Void does not disappoint. The stage is a brutal chain-link fence and a bare floor, and the sound of passing traffic sets the scene until performer/choreographer Mele Broomes explodes onto the stage, presumably flung from her car down the bank into this concrete island. What follows is an absolutely remarkable display of physicality; a terrifying, chaotic, controlled performance that is as beautiful as it is disturbing.

This central performance works in perfect harmony (in the most discordant way) with the audio and visuals by Bex Anson and Dav Bernard of MHz. Glitching moons, green bars and red boxes flicker across the stage like images from a broken VHS player. Broomes twists and turns through this digital landscape like a reanimating corpse, then a shuffling amoeba, and finally a desperate human frantically drumming on the chain link fence with her high heels. There's also a short sequence with a huge black bin liner that is utterly mesmerising.

Void replaces Ballard's white male protagonist with a black female one, and this shift brings the 40-year-old story right into the present day. Instead of a tragic figure trapped in the the amoral technological jungle of modernity, we see a desperate figure outside the system, trying to break in through the layers of privilege, patriarchy and institutional racism.

This is a piece of theatre / dance / performance art that you need to 'experience', not just watch. It's definitely not for everyone, but I recommend you surrender yourself to its onslaught, then head to the pub for a debrief.

Reviews by Jim Ralley

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The Blurb

Based on JG Ballard's cult novel Concrete Island, Void meshes experimental dance and abstract glitch-video landscapes. Taking in typically Ballardian themes of dystopian worlds, liminal spaces and urban paranoia, Mele Broomes performs risk-taking choreography to the backdrop of an industrial soundscape. 'Void assails you, unnerves you on many levels with Broomes at the heart of the risk-taking' **** (Herald). 'Spiky show of arms and legs, draped with video projections both powerful and desperate' **** (Skinny). Part of Made in Scotland Showcase. www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com

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