V-TOL Dance Company, Without Trace

Review in Issue 11-4 | Winter 1999

On discovering that V-TOL were using video projection in this piece, I groaned. Rarely have I seen video used well on stage. Thankfully, Without Trace uses the various different projectors on its handsome, minimal set to stunning effect.

Creating a diaphanous space through the projections, we see both large, cinema-scale projection as well as smaller images on other parts of the stage. Full of surprises, the piece is visually remarkable. Unfortunately, however, once you get accustomed to the spectacle of it all, there isn’t much underneath to keep the audience occupied. The dancers are obviously skilled, but lack the real presence needed to pull off this kind of work. The choreography is, for the most part, uninspiring. The music, similarly, serves its purpose but adds little to the piece as a whole. The real problem comes, though, with the company’s reliance on closed narrative. They use spoken text – as well as projections of some home-made soap opera – to flesh out the narrative of a woman who disappears one day and the effect that it has on those around her. Disappointingly, they decide to opt for the youth theatre approach of having pitifully weak actors speaking the inner thoughts of the dancers.

In the right hands, Spencer Hazel’s text may well have been rendered poetic. Instead it comes across as embarrassingly crass and dull. Without Trace takes itself very seriously and doesn’t quite pull it off. This aside, the show obviously thrilled the packed audience of cynical Brighton schoolchildren who surrounded me, which is a feat not to be sniffed at.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-4
p. 22