Entrails

★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Entrails
Published 22 Aug 2016

Parachute Dance really do have a parachute – or at least something that looks a lot like one. It's a tangled mass of rope and nylon that's wrapped round the middle of one of the performers, spilling out like the entrails of the show's title, and twining in and out of her writhing limbs. 

 

This Edinburgh and London-based young company's dance piece is full of such images of disentanglement and discomfort. It's inspired by Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22, using its story of pilots trapped in the surreal, inscrutable hierarchy of the American military. Three performers fall, or are slapped down, again and again, as they come up against an invisible authority. And they chafe against the physical trappings of military discipline: goggles, coats and malfunctioning parachutes.
It's a promisingly original conceit. But their performance drifts far from its point of departure, becoming opaque and meandering as it progresses. Heller's novel is a satire that leavens the bleakness of WWII with a rich strand of anarchy and wit – a humour that's largely missing from Parachute Dance's performance. Róisin O'Brien's choreography is full of powerful images, conveyed with occasionally faltering vigour by Kayla Tomé, Jenny Geertsen and Emily Neighbour. Their brief foray into war-time nightlife provides a welcome change of pace, full of joy and silliness.
But breaks into spoken word are less successful – especially since they suggest so little of Heller's highly distinctive voice, full of dense jargon and elegant wordplay. Entrails dances and drifts around its subject matter but, like a wayward parachute, never quite lands on it.