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Wednesday 22 May 2019

Brighton Festival 2019 Review: TrapTown @ Brighton Dome

The Brighton Magazine's Brighton Festival reviewer Simon Turner was lucky enough to capture a one-off performance of TrapTown, at Brighton Dome Concert Hall, last night (21/05/19).

Credit: Wim Vandekeybus

TrapTown is a full-on multimedia production conceived and executed by Gijs Wim Vandekeybus, an internationally renowned choreographer from Belgium whose previous critically acclaimed works include Blush in 2002 and more recently in Oedipus/bêt noir in 2011, works where he first demonstrated his fascination for the universal nature of age-old myths. 

His work is ably executed by the twelve strong and energetic contemporary dance company Ultima Vez, who have worked with him since 1986. 

The set (a mixture of on-stage and projection) was designed by architect duo Gijs Van Vaerenbergh.

And multimedia it is… 'kitchen sink' comes to mind. 

There are so many elements thrown in here: full on dance (of course), story telling, singing/songwriting, rock and electronic music, film, spoken word, sinkholes, audience interaction, footballs and of course, rabbits. 

But what is it about? It's hard to be precise. A mayor rules over a town of two peoples. One produces milk and the other makes honey. One is more successful and subjugates the other, but in the most modern liberal way where at first to an outsider they might appear equal. 

The action is split between a full stage black and white projection and the main stage. 

Screen content alternates between a dark underground warren and dystopian maze where the townsfolk seem to live, missives from the mayor (Jerry Killick) mostly concerning death and his son (a female dancer) and a woman singer accompanied by a guitar… whose relevance continued to elude me.

On the stage Ultima Vez shone. The dancing was energetic, expressive and very skillful, and a joy to behold. 

The dancers also doubled as orators and, for me at least, this did not work, it was awkward and I had trouble understanding what was being said.

The music, an original musical score by Trixie Whitley and Phoenician Drive, was a little strange. 

It started (and ended) promisingly with electronics but most was performed on an electric guitar using deliberately malformed 70s sounding riffs. 

Sadly, it kept pulling me away from the visual action.

At 1hr 45mins with no break the piece seemed a little long but still I enjoyed it, even if I did leave wondering how much of the story had passed me by. 

The rabbits and the mayor's propensity to turn into an eagle completely baffled me.

All in all I'd like to have seen a lot more dancing and more of the shape-shifting interaction between the dancers and the projection. 

Saying that, I'd definitely go and see another production by Wim Vandekeybus and Ultima Vez if they visit our city again.

Brighton Festival 2019 continues until Sunday 26th May 2019. For more info CLICK HERE.

by: Simon Turner


Credit Tom Woollard

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