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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke

REVIEW: WHAT SONGS MAY DO... @ THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH

🎭 What Songs May Do…

📍 The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR

🗓 Monday 12th June 2023

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

WOW! WOW! WOW!


As I sit down to write my review of What Songs May Do…, currently performing in The Drum at Theatre Royal Plymouth, I am still in awe and disbelief of this beautifully powerful piece of dance.

This piece, presented by Rendezvous Dance and choreographed by Artistic Director Mathieu Geffré, explores love, heartbreak and sexuality in a raw and mesmerising way that had me captivated from start to finish.


The piece portrays the love of a couple and how they are continuously drawn to one another through a powerful emotional connection. It speaks to anyone who has ever known love and heartbreak on a truly intimate level that resonates deeply with the audience who felt every single emotion throughout.


Performed with sublime elegance by Oliver Chapman and Paolo Pisarra, they both expose their vulnerabilities unapologetically which allows you to be drawn into their story even more as they invite you to take their journey with them. The sheer talent of these performers in undeniable and was a privilege to witness, especially in such an intimate setting.

The way their beautiful bodies intwined to tell the story was nothing short of incredible. The emotion they portrayed was effortlessly projected into the audience and created tears in the eyes of those of us who were transfixed on their beautiful story.


Having just two dancers on stage and without the distraction of elaborate sets or an ensemble, Chapman and Pisarra were laid bare and their skills were breathtaking.


This is a love duet like no other which proves that the story itself is the most important part of any production. What Songs May Do… has no set and minimal lighting, but what it has is pure artistic know-how and an incredibly compelling meaning that transcends boundaries and draws the audience ever-closer.


The lighting design by Rachel Shipp deserves to be applauded. She has completely understood the piece and used lighting to enhance it in a wonderful way. Her design is beautifully understated which makes it all the more meaningful.

The story is set to the songs of Nina Simone and somehow hearing her amazing voice throughout really added even more soul to the performance. What Geffré has cleverly done here is not just choose the big songs everyone associates with Simone, but has carefully chosen tracks which support the narrative of the piece.


I liked how live recordings of Simone were used, which added more purity to the production. I took in every word and they really sunk in and gave meaning to the what was being witnessed on the stage. Lyrics such as “Forgotten our feelings of love”, “Why do you keep on breaking my heart?” and “Here in my heart you’ll always stay” gave a depth and rawness to the story that is unparalleled.


There were also moments of extended silence throughout. These were somehow even more mesmerising and you really felt the power of stillness. Dramaturg Andrew Gardiner has helped to create these moments to propel the story to an even higher level. When the piece ended in silence I was left in no doubt that I had just witnessed a masterpiece.


I have seen a lot of amazing dance pieces this year but What Songs May Do… has raised the bar and is one of my favourite dance pieces I have ever had the privilege to witness. For me this is so much more than a dance piece, but a socially important piece of art that should be seen by everyone.

As a gay man myself, I really felt how important it is to see a piece like this. To tell a same-sex story with utter truth and without censorship is brave but so important. The fact that this show is touring during Pride month will hopefully encourage more people to book tickets to see and experience this masterpiece.


If it makes you uncomfortable, then in my opinion that’s a good thing. This production shows that no matter how you define your sexuality or relationship status, we are essentially all the same and go through similar experiences.


I want to thank Rendezvous Dance and Geffré for creating and presenting this evocative piece of theatre and for celebrating diversity in such an impactful way.


There are two more performances of What Songs May Do… at Theatre Royal Plymouth and believe me when I say you do not want to miss this. If you only see one piece of dance this year, then make it this one. There are still tickets for both performances so head to www.theatreroyal.com and book now. Ticket prices start from just £14.

The production is touring nationally so if you can’t see it in Plymouth then head to www.rendez-vousdance.com where you can find details of upcoming performances as well as company biographies and more about the amazing work being produced by Rendezvous Dance.


Neill Kovacic-Clarke

All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.

My ticket for this performance was gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to review the production. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in my star rating or the content of my review.

CREDITS:

Choreography: Mathieu Geffré; Performers: Oliver Chapman and Paolo Pisarra; Dramaturg: Andrew Gardiner; Lighting Designer / Technical Manager: Rachel Shipp; Touring Technician / Relighter: Amelia Hawkes


RUNNING TIME (approx):

55 minutes with no interval

NOTES:

This production contains partial nudity and gay themes


AGE RECOMMENDATION:

13 + (persons under the age of 13 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian)

The mission of Theatre Royal Plymouth 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 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.


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