“Incorporating audience participation in the worst way possible, this performance made me cramp up in my seat.”
“Not quite midnight” is a performance made by the French dance company Cas Public. The performance tries to summon up the magic of Cinderella, the magic of the tales of Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, and the operas of Rossini and Prokofiev. At least this is what the program states.
Using a very similar concept as Cas Public did in the performance “9”, the scenography consisted of small chairs, doll houses and an electrical robot controlled by the dancers. When I walked into the space I was very surprised to see the similarities in scenography between “9”, performed last year at Showbox festival in Oslo, and the performance I was about to see now. Just as in “9”, the actors invited five-six children up on the stage while the audience was still getting seated and comfortable. These children would then stay on stage for the entire duration of the performance. What differentiated “Not quite midnight” from “9” was the age of intended audience. This time the children brought up on stage were much younger and that may have contributed to the disaster. What the audience would witness, was one of the poorest executed audience interactions and involvements I have seen in a performance.
The performance itself did not communicate a clear story, and the bits and pieces we as an audience had to use as guide line in the story, were few and far between. A clear line throughout the performance was a screen, showing a clock slowly ticking closer and closer to midnight. Otherwise I had a hard time understanding what the dancers tried to communicate out to the audience. The chaotic scenography, and uncomfortable children involved on stage made it even harder to focus on a storyline.
The outcome of the performance was a big disappointment. This was mainly because in their earlier performance “9”, Cas Public had been praised for their gentle and tasteful combination of the dance and involvement with the children on stage. I remember how impressive it was to see a dance performance with such high skill in dancing, but also so sympathetic dancers. They seemed so comfortable and relaxed with bringing a couple youngsters into the game. This time they did not succeed. The children seemed scared and uncomfortable and it did not help when the actors continued interacting with them in the same harsh and un-adjusted way. It looked as though they didn’t catch any of the signals the children were sending, and just continued on with their show.
Cas Public are known for their great skills when it comes to choreography, and this performance was no exception. Although the choreography was impressive when it comes to technicality, it didn’t always have the same positive effect esthetically. The hard movement became tiresome to watch after a while, and with the young children on stage watching them, being pushed to interact with them, the lack of sensitivity and softness became apparent.
I left the space shocked by how different works of one dance company can be in terms of quality. I had been looking forward to seeing the dancers from Cas Public dance again, but I was disappointed. I hope that the next Cas Public performance I see will be different, because I know the company can do better, and hopefully with their next performance they will.
Written By: Anna Moberg