In the small space of Camden People’s Theatre, two women walk on in slow motion, and take centre-stage between clothes hanging from the ceiling, projected text onto the back wall, and a ring of fairy lights, glowing in the dim light…
We Never Go Places To Dance Anymore sits you down on a proverbial bean bag for an hour and makes you a nice, big theatrical cup of tea (proverbial, too, of course). Packed with references to pop culture, the piece explores idols, aspiration and friendship, and makes use of multimedia to create the sense of beauty and allure that you get when looking into a starry night sky – but more cosy and domestic in its form.
The show is an interesting hybrid of deconstructed performance – with microphones in hand and deadpan humour at the ready – and traditional ideas of theatricality. Performers Kristine Grændsen and Marie-Laure Hay boogie in and out of the fourth wall, phasing through it like lip-syncing millennial ghosts inviting you into their nostalgia sleepover. They dance with freedom and liberation, like they’ve found themselves thrown back in time to their childhood, and are revelling in it. They deliver an eclectic mix of texts: Poetry, informal conversation, quirky anecdotes and samples from interviews of their idols – Amy Winehouse, Bruce Springsteen and Freddie Mercury to name but a few.
Grændsen and Hay’s delivery and composure on stage is so sensitive and genuine that everything they say, even when it’s deadpan and robotic, feels incredibly personal. Their presence on stage holds the hybridity of the piece together; for a piece that constantly fluctuates across all levels, it benefits from having performers who are able to adapt to these fluctuations.
However, the piece can sometimes enter into the realm of vagueness, and it seems that it needs to deepen into itself to counteract this, something that may prove difficult due to its hybridity. The performance has a good rhythm to it, yet sometimes certain sections feel like they’ve passed their natural finishing point. Dancing is a big part of the performance, and Grændsen and Hay will dance through entire Katy Perry and Adele songs when maybe they could afford to dance through a half or two-thirds.
There’s a definite lack of rules to how Places to Dance works and exists as a show. It’s beguiling and enticing, incredibly specific in its non-specificity. It is about aspiring towards your idols, and as a piece, seems to aspire confidently to itself, its own originality and essence. As Grændsen and Hay gaze at each other with child-like adoration, across their ghostly living-room, the piece gazes into itself in the same way, and as a result, helps us to gaze into, and aspire to, ourselves.
Setesdal Collective: We Never Go Places To Dance Anymore is a British–Norwegian production supported by Det Andre Teatret, Oslo. Featured image (Top) by Amber Mae Photography.