THE HERMETIC MARRIAGE
by The Butterfly Wheel.
Pentameters Theatre 28 Heath Street Hampstead NW3 6TE To 23 March 2014.
Tue-Sat 8pm Sun 5pm.
Runs 1hr 10min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7435 3648.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 6 March.
Multi-media more than multi-meaning.
Is it a play? Or dance? Or something operatic? A concert-piece with action? Or merely pretentious piffle?
Once, when I thought either how fortunate young people imbued with artistic sensibility were to have been born to such names as Alice Ancient or Moon Child – or how brave of them to strike-out towards identities they had discovered for themselves by adopting such names – I would have been awed, if uncomprehending, by the performances those identities had created.
Nowadays, I’m more likely to wonder what such names look like on an electoral roll, or imprinted on a loyalty card. Even Moon Child, presumably, has to go the daily round of life’s more tedious routines. And, that being so, a piece like The Hermetic Marriage starts to seem wilfully detached from life.
I could tolerate it more if it weren’t for that ‘Hermetic’, with its post-Eleusinian sense of mysterious exclusivity. The piece can easily seem less an alternative approach to life than an exercise in avoiding any sort of responsibility towards characters, audience or story. What is is all about?
Yet mystery has its uses, as emerges when a few spoken words are actually identifiable and suggest a wide-open vacuity. If this is, or were, religion it would be the emotion-bulging, vague kind, with a credulity besotted by its own uncritical self-importance.
In other words, perhaps I’m not the best person to be reviewing this. Maybe I’m not the sort who’s its intended audience. No problem about that. It’s just that the whole show leaves me not caring very much about the parade of music, masks, dance and video images that fill the stage.
Here I go again. So: the music has periods of beauty that makes the trance-like score fitfully entrancing (with some rude awakenings at gaps between sections). It is well-played. And if the plentiful, often energetic movement doesn’t make you think Rambert must have lent its A-team, it remains controlled and precise.
So if it’s unappealing to me, it’s certainly not appalling. And a company already booked for Berlin and Paris aren’t going to be too worried anyway.
Performers: Alice Ancient, Moon Child (The Butterfly Wheel), Matthew Newton, Liis Mikk, André Goncalves, Catherine Amakars, Simon Lee, Carlo Morelli, Craig Swan, Amy Rose Esdale (Family Monroe).
Choreographer: Amelia Marchant.
Costume: Yevette Willaert.