Edinburgh Festival Theatre (venue)
24 November 2018 (released)
27 November 2018
The Rambert Dance Company was formed in 1926 by the Polish born dancer Marie Rambert – a woman who was to wield a considerable influence on the ballet world in Great Britain for some considerable time. One would think she would look keenly at choreographer Kim Brandstrup's latest work which, although derived from 17th Spanish playwright Calderon's play, features actually a Polish prince as its title character.
In fact we have a number of Polish contributions on offer here, not forgetting the company founder's nationality. The music is all by 20th century Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994) who really deserves to be better known. Most would not be aware that this most potent and timeless music was of a comparatively recent origin (those who want to find out more about the composer look no further than the Naxos Label).
The Festival Theatre was pretty packed for this performance; clearly the Rambert Dance Company has a good following in Edinburgh. On the strength of this production it is only too obvious why. That said the plot could appear a little confusing at times but bear in mind the title: Life is a Dream. The director of the play (did we think it was the incarcerated Prince?) falls asleep and imagines no end of inspired scenarios relating to the piece (he himself played by yet another dancer), thus providing a veritable field day of inspired dance sequences. In Calderon's original we are informed that the Prince has been freed from prison for a day and goes on a rampage of vile excess before being returned and after waking thinks it was a dream.
Here though the director finds himself eventually orchestrating his own dream. Remember then that all dreams are to an extent a summation of your thoughts, fears and aspirations - often intermingled and appearing 'confused'. Indeed, here we enter a different realm altogether. Visually, LIFE IS A DREAM has so very much in its favor that the actual plot is of no real consequence. The design is by the highly original and quirkily gifted Quay Brothers, best known perhaps for their offbeat animated films. They are well complemented by Holly Waddington's monochrome costumes. Few could fail to be impressed by Jean Kalman's unforgettable lighting, again proving how effective this area can be with a comparatively minimal set. Echoes of Kafka and German Expressionism spring to mind, an unsettling and feverish experience heightened by even more unsettling visuals and Kim Brandstrup’s deliberately ‘unstructured’ choreography.
You doubtless will have dreams after seeing this production and may even glimpse vista's unseen before. The Rambert Contemporary Dance Company presented its spectators with a memorable visual dance extravaganza and the relatively short running time hits the mark only too well.
RAMBERT: LIFE IS A DREAM is currently on tour nationwide.