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  • Writer's pictureGirl Gang Manchester

Review: Crackle. Dust. by Company of Others

Updated: May 7, 2019

By Aisling Roche ·

At Z-arts STUN studio, Friday 26. April 2019

On the chair to greet you when you enter the performance space for Crackle. Dust. is an envelope and a luggage tag. Neatly hand-written on the luggage tag is the first of many stories you are confronted with in this moving , original piece of dance theatre based around the collected stories of endings from women across the North of England.

The show is set in the round, with the six performers intimately close and interactive with the audience. At times they are sitting among the audience, or quietly recounting their spoken word directly to a select few, then filling the entire space or closing ranks in the centre of the stage.

Combing a sparse but clever set, spoken word and movement, the Company of Others weaves a thread of solidarity through the wide and varied experiences of local women. The breadth of these stories was well reflected in the choreography, visibly taking influence from several dancing styles, and a capable, diverse cast. Their performances simultaneously felt like flowing, unstructured movement and unnatural contortion by unseen forces. A particularly affecting motif in the choreography was the repeated sense of a story being dragged by hand out through the mouths of the performers. There is a true sense of urgency from the piece. These collated tales were desperate to be told, to burst from their teller to make an indifferent world learn from their experience. Inside the envelope on your seat there is an introduction to the Company of Others and the show itself, starting with the powerful quote by Janet Mock,

‘I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves, and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act.’

The revolution of making visible the endings and rebirths of Northern women comes to a crescendo at a point in the show when the nuance of a story told through movement is stripped away and the cast stand facing the audience, directly delivering a collective spoken word scene on the systems in place for the care of children in the UK today. This part of Crackle.Dust. has a fed-up, stark quality. We are given the sense that, in such dire straits as we are, the energy it takes for art to deal in subtlety and metaphor has been drained away. We are told, in no uncertain terms, to ‘Wake Up,’ to the horrors of poverty in the UK.

In contrast to these harsh truths however, there is no lack of portraying the joy and hopeful resilience of women. The cast are buoyant and bounce through scenes about new beginnings and there is a warm tenderness evident in the many different versions of motherhood recounted in the show. An ode to the optimism and resourcefulness of the female contributors to the show closes an emotional and thought-provoking performance.

Crackle. Dust. is currently touring this piece throughout the North of England, with more information available on their website, which includes a short film on the methods Artistic Director Nadia Iftkhar used in collecting the accounts shared in the piece.

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