The late Pina Bausch played the role of matchmaker to Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Shantala Shivalingappa and hence the immaculate conception of Play was borne.
Play is the gentle art of love – its conduit Music, Song and Modern Dance. A love shared and expressed by its choreographers/dancers and its musicians while washing over a clearly enraptured audience.
Play itself expresses the game of life as much as the game of love, lust, betrayal and interference along with the macro-love of intertwining cultures, both personal and professional.
The dancers and on-stage musicians are moved around like pieces on a chess set notwithstanding an actual game of chess played on-stage early on in the piece. Its only drawback is when, like a butterfly breaking it’s cocoon, Shivalingappa leaves the visceral behind to move downstage and deliver a long, didactic, cerebral soliloquy on the power of the mind.
It was Sir Robert Helpmann who said “Dance criticism is the most difficult and least successful of all forms of writing in the arts”. He’s dead right and no reviewer could do this show and its technical perfection the justice it deserves – see it and you’ll understand.
Strangely, the show is a song too long. Effectively, Play ends and the audience applauds but the house lights go back down for that one song. If this show was a penis that final vignette would be the foreskin that for reasons of aesthetics and it’s own future well-being needs to be circumcised.