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Rambert - Death Trap

Ben Duke


The Lowry

April 18-20, 2024; 1hr 40mins

(also Newcastle Theatre Royal, April 25-26)

Rambert dancers in Death Trap. All pics: Camilla Greenwell
Rambert dancers in Death Trap. All pics: Camilla Greenwell

Poster showing a two-star rating

This Lowry double-bill lasts 100 minutes, including a 20 minute interval. Of this time there is about 50% dancing, with the rest an ironic take on the idiotic questions asked by interviewers... ("And how did you feel when Eurydice died?"), or rather good music, sung by Sheree Dubois.

In fact to my eyes the second piece should really have been billed as a Nina Simone concert, with the odd bit of dance to accompany it.

Rambert changed its name from Ballet Rambert some years ago, and this piece seems to sum up the

change. When you have some of the best contemporary dancers in Britain, who possess an ability to express all kinds of deep emotions, it seems a shame to under-use them. Director Ben Duke has built a

reputation for incorporating all aspects of musical and dance theatre into his work, but in these two pieces he appears to have forgotten that dance audiences come to see great dancers using their skills. We may wish to be amused, but not at the expense of the creativity of the dance.

But amid the dross there are moments of wonder. Again the dancers seem able to overcome the restraints of the production to show what they could have done for the audience.

In the first half there is a wonderful piece of movement as the troupe show how to fly through the auditorium without artificial aids but using their whole body to produce a moment of magic. It's invidious to pick out individuals, but any dancer who can entrance while using a stick to balance takes your breath away.

Some of the ideas - such as the use of a dancer attached to a rope, moving across the stage to the sound of a drummer (Romana Campbell) to illustrate the process of the inevitable transition of life to death, play well. But that’s because they use the skills of the dancers to good effect. If only the lesson had been followed through.

So, if you like music by Nina Simone, the second half is great. If you don’t mind watching an interviewer asking strange questions and getting strange answers then the two wonderful small pieces of dance in each half could be sufficient. But if you want the experience of creative expression through physical movement, this may not be your best choice.

More info and tickets here


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