REVIEW: LORE @ THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH
📍 The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR
🗓 Thursday 16th November 2023
A TAPESTRY OF MYTHOLOGY
It is the dawn of time. We watch as creatures emerge, unworldly yet not unknown. Echoes of ancient memory, animals, gods, trees. A creation story inspired by Celtic mythology.
Pulled out of eerie darkness by Michal Wojtas’ breathy haunting score, the story is told by two dancers as individually or together they weave the tale of the Beginning from many cultures into a hypnotic trance-like whole. The choreography is laden with ritual, clever and agile, certainly a testament to the stamina of the dancers. Trees, animals, plants, effigies made with sticks, their shapes recreated by the movement in dazzling lifts and swirls. There is a wonderful sequence where a horned god plants a seed that grows before our eyes. Lyrically beautiful and evocative, the two dancers become one entity. The horned god is edgy, scary, not of our world. We are not sure if he is threatening or merely indifferent.
The award winning company James Wilton Dance comprises of James Wilton and Sarah Jane Taylor who choreograph and perform the show. We find ourselves in an unearthly place encircled by Wilton’s understated skeletal set, it feels a little dangerous, and unfamiliar. The set and simple costumes, designed by Taylor, are formed from natural materials enhancing the sense of prehistory. Wooden vertebrae-like shapes suspended from ropes and slices through trees become stepping stones. A mysterious haze hangs in the air adding to the unsettling, folkloric feel of the piece. Wilton also designed the lighting which is simple but very effective. I particularly enjoy the warm spotlights lighting the dancers from the sides which encapsulate the ethereal strangeness of the space perfectly. Wojtas' score is powerful. Sometimes with voices floating and the sounds of nature, then driving the narrative on with pounding primeval, rhythmic beats. Combined with lithe inventive dancing the result is heroic and fascinating.
Unfortunately for me the production seems overlong causing the choreography to become repetitive, which is a real shame as the atmosphere and story they create is full of pagan energy. You can virtually see the ley lines appear under their feet. The start of the piece has such potential which reappears again at the end, however there is a slow section in the middle which feels to be going nowhere with nothing new to offer to the unfolding tale. While still filled with sinuous dance and clever ritualistic interactions it seems to run out of steam somehow. Some passages on the floor are tricky to see and though I revel in the use of woad, that section seems interminable.
For the most part LORE is wonderful with a strong magical feel formed from the masterful knitting together of myths and legends from across Europe. There are bewitching moments of beauty, threat and primordial other worldliness. It is so disappointing therefore that it lapses into repetition for a while as it steals the energy so carefully crafted and makes the production feel uncomfortable. It is hard to regain the mood for the undoubtedly more exciting ending.
LORE runs in The Drum at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 18th November. There are only a few tickets remaining. Head to www.theatreroyal.com to check availability and to book tickets.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest, fair and free from influence. Theatre is subjective and it is important to remember that all views expressed are just those of one reviewer.
My ticket for this performance of Lore was gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to watch the show on behalf of Pink Prince Theatre in exchange for my honest review. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in the content of my review or the star rating given.
James Wilton and Sarah Jane Taylor
RUNNING TIME (approx):
1 hour, with no interval
The Theatre Royal Plymouth is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West and is the largest and most attended regional producing theatre in the country. Their mission is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue offers three performance spaces of various sizes, the largest being The Lyric which accommodates the big touring productions. The Drum and The Lab are smaller, intimate spaces and often offer pioneering productions.