Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool; 29th May 2017
The Band is a narrative dance tale of love and faded glories, played out by Nathan Johnston and Eleni Edipidi as Bruno and Sandy. I’m here for three reasons:
- I have been in Liverpool for the day taking a physical theatre and clown workshop with Sean Kempton as part of the city’s annual Physical Fest;
- because the show’s choreography contains lifting and aerial hoop work, both in it’s usual solo form and in a specially devised counterweight duet where the line is attached to Johnston’s belt as he moves around the stage;
- because my little brother – who is not usually a theatre-goer, circus-goer, or contemporary dance-goer – stumbled across the show whilst on holiday with his wife and they were both so impressed they told me I had to try to catch it.
I also enjoyed the Levantes Dance Theatre show immensely but – disclaimer – because it started late and because I had to catch the last train home to Cardiff I missed the last few minutes. What I did see was beautiful – funny on the surface, but heart-wrenching underneath.
Inside the art warehouse space of the Invisible Wind Factory, the smell of incense, free glitter and revolving ceiling decor have already set the scene for the height of Bruno & Sandy’s seventies splendour. Glinting racks of sequinned costumes and gold discs onstage fit right in, as big seventies voices sing slow-dance songs that give way to applause for the pair’s entrance.
Sitting on fur-lined steps, they begin to go through their routine motions of a professional popstar career. Travelling across the stage with air drum kits and backing dancer choreographies, their faces remain as bland as if they were making a cup of tea or doing the washing up. Sandy’s hair rocks out on automatic.
A voice over gives us Bruno’s side of the story – he has accepted the loss of their fame, but Sandy hasn’t. What I love about the show, however, is that as it progresses we see that taking one person’s word for events is not necessarily an accurate portrayal of the truth. What he’s really talking about is romance and, as he redirects his artistry into magnificent miniature sandwich creations, we see Sandy trying to rekindle their lost spark with glamour and increasing desperation.
Simple images are rich in interpretations for us to savour. Sandy stands at an illuminated vintage microphone in a sparkling black dress. She could be singing, or announcing awards, or reading love letters sent to her in golden envelopes from an earlier Bruno, and I enjoy seeing all three realities in one.
Sequences with dolls and projected animation reinforce the love that still powers their fractured relationship, and I am gutted to miss the end, never knowing if they fix the present to move forward from their past.
I also don’t know if and how the circus technique progresses beyond the aerial hoop work I saw, but would still be perfectly satisfied if that were the extent of it. The Band is a committed piece of story-telling that uses multiple forms, making it hard to bracket, and easy to love.