Frantic Assembly, Hymns

Review in Issue 11-4 | Winter 1999

Four besuited men dangle dangerously from ladders. On the ground they become Jimmy's friends, struggling to communicate after his funeral. But they hardly ever stop moving for, although the narrative remains locked in a world of realism, the movement escapes into dance and vertiginous exploits on ladders and gantries.

There are no empty gestures here. In DV8 style (the director is Liam Steel), the choreographic substance is everyday life; moves are drawn from recognisable behaviour and worked into highly inventive rhythms and patterns to become alternately absorbing, moving, funny and always visually surprising. Scenes move swiftly to expose underlying tensions within the group, which surface in revelations about Jimmy.

Then there are the words. The piece was scripted from ideas within the company and the text works best when words gloss the action, but flounders when it wanders into 'soap-talk'. It's when words break down and dance is the only option that the show takes flight. When music, sound, light and a scene change fuse on an emotional high point, the effect is more powerful than awkward revelations in words. Light, colour, sound and image merge into a virtual film; you wish film-makers would wake up to the possibilities offered by companies like this. The cinematic feel is lost in the longer stretches of dialogue – but that's a minor cavil. See this show for its stunningly slick, risky and exciting choreography

It's worth noting that I saw it in a 200 seater. Larger theatres will enhance the spectacle but may lose the intimacy that makes the riskiness so thrilling.

Presenting Artists
Date Seen
  1. Nov 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-4
p. 23