Which came first, the artistic intention or the audience interpretation? Without the former to react to, can an audience truly respond with the latter? While Fabricate does not lack intention, what intention it does have is limited. As recent graduates, Reece Adams, Lydia Connolly-Hiatt, Caitlin Davey, Cushla Roughan, and Rodney Tyrell have the right collective purpose in presenting an original and self-choreographed dance show, however, the result is more of a self-devised showcase of skill rather than the emergence of a new generation of dancers and the identity of their work.
The first sequence, in which an eponymous fabric is interwoven by the artists, is a strong metaphorical opening to the societal themes within the piece, but, like much of the show, its repetition wanes quickly. Repetitive phrasing certainly has its place in dance, but without expanding upon it, it can be easy to lose an audience’s attention.
Aside from Connolly-Hiatt and Davey’s duet, Marshall Bull’s lighting design contains little sidelight, preventing us from truly appreciating the full extent of the performer’s bodies, although the heavy shadows do propagate the dark and depressive nature of and struggle within the work. It’s difficult to fight the soporific rhythm of Caspar Connolly’s musical composition, and the cuts between tracks harshly breaks any performative flow, pulling you from what momentum you do manage to garner from the show, leaving it detached from a sense of completeness.
This detachment extends to the performance aspect of the show, where the solos, duets, trios, and ensemble pieces are neither separate entities that result in a show culminating in the sum of its parts, nor individual components of or reflections on a greater thematic construct. While their exploration is not expected to be fully formed at this early stage in these practitioners’ development, there is also nothing particularly new about what they bring to the conversation.
“Unsettling” is a compelling publicity buzzword, but it puts a significant onus on a work to provoke beyond mainstream entertainment, and, subjectivity aside, the opening night audience remained rather “settled” for the duration of Fabricate. As a venue, the Basement Theatre is a haven for emerging artists to hone their respective crafts and find their audiences, and there’s no reason not to support these young dancers in the early stages of their respective careers. Fabricate may not fill you up, but it will leave you hungry for more.
Fabricate plays at The Basement until April 16. For details see The Basement