Introducing one of our volunteer dance reviewers, Martha Scholefield:
Martha graduated with a first-class degree from the Dance Theatre course at University of
Plymouth in 2018. Since then she has been working as a dance practitioner with Exim Dance Company and Plymouth Dance and administrator for Dance in Devon, as well as her own freelance work including a performance project in Lisbon with Adam Benjamin. Since writing her undergraduate dissertation she has been keen to continue her academic writing, particularly performance reviews.
Review of Reach | Lavrak
by Martha Scholefield
Sunday 27 October 2019 at The Arts Institute, Plymouth.
Reach, by Lavrak, a contemporary circus company, is an aerial and dance theatre show
aimed at children, which is accessible to people who are deaf or hearing impaired. On arrival
at The House, Plymouth, there was a great buzz of excitement. It was fantastic to hear the
conversations between children and their parents about what to expect, and it was
probably the first time watching a piece of theatre for some of them, judging by parents’
explanations of the house lights fading to dark and how not to talk as it was about to begin.
The professionalism of the performers shone when a child trotted onto the stage, soon to
be scooped up by her mother and taken back to their seats! They portrayed very clear
actions, facial expressions and relationships which told the narrative. Some valuable themes
and messages were communicated within the story-telling, including the importance of
team-work, as well as a hint towards how gravity works. This was done by using helium
balloons that made the dancers appear as though they were being lifting into the air,
through the use of aerial work.
I was delighted to see an absence of gender stereotypes, particularly with the colours used
within the costumes and props. The use of sound effects to enhance the mimed actions in
the play-fighting duet were a good addition which could have been used more throughout. I
appreciated that each of the three characters performed sections where it was just one of
them on stage; this allowed them to make a stronger connection with the audience and
show the individual personality of each character.
It was uplifting to see children (and adults!) having a wonderful time and be impressed by
the aerial dance form. This show was a perfect demonstration of why the arts are so
important, especially when providing the opportunity for people to access the theatre and
performance from a young age. A joyful and (literally) uplifting performance!
Top Image: Reach | Lavrak