Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus

If James Joyce made dance-theatre...

★★★★
dance review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus
Published 18 Aug 2017

A Joycean construction of metaphor, observation and reference gives Oona Doherty's dance-theatre collage sticking power beyond its 30 minutes of performance, as we're left trying to pick apart the elements of an elusive puzzle. Choreographies of young, white, societally disadvantaged masculinity are presented in an ambiguously gendered way with a powerful energy and exquisite detail. Doherty's facial expressions, gestures and gait are instantly recognisable and, melded with more traditional contemporary dance movements, afford a kind of nobility to a demographic significantly represented in high-cultural spheres as 'no good'. 

Beginning outside in the Grassmarket, we observe the everyday movements of street passers-by, and each other, until a vanity-numberplated Daewoo Matiz booms up beside us, tumbling Doherty headlong into our midst. Bringing the second piece of the performance inside the Dance Bace venue is part of the journey towards raising forth this example of man who more usually comes fifth and loses the job.

We see the same symptoms across Europe in Doherty's multi-faceted portrayal of a contemporary archetype. As she breaks into spoken sound poetry, Uncle Kurt Schwitters is hailed as a role model of drink and banter, and we watch the physical process of utterance broken down and built up, complementing the movement sequences of nightclub release.

A soundtrack of voices—fly-on-the wall pub aggression, it seems—is overlaid with choral exhaltation as layers of stigma are stripped away to reveal a purity and validation of existence. This is complex and cleverly crafted work, to be congratulated.