And If I Were Me – The Studio, Festival Theatre

Video rights: Act2

Created by Catherine Dreyfus

How do you visualise an emotion? Utilising the medium of movement, French choreographer Catherine Dreyfus’ production of And If I Were Me puts forward this question. 

Initially concealed within a box, a plethora of wonders are revealed to the audience. Arnaud Poumarat‘s set is a cube featuring sliding panels that gradually reveal a projection screen, among other surprises. The spectacular design allows the dancers to convey vivid movements and reality-defying tricks, as only sections of thier bodies are exposed – much to the delight of the audience. The resulting show is a child-like delight that communicates the true joy of creative expression.

Significantly physical, the performance is more of a movement piece than a dance production. As the audience are taken on an evolutionary journey, the performers react to one another with a spontaneous-seeming ease that is often funny, especially when they farcically shuffle around as post-cellular life forms. 

Dreyfus’ choreography channels various emotions, perhaps to relay to children the power of dance to express feelings. The concepts of confusion, aggression and stress are communicated through rapidly shifting leaps, balanced out by the playfulness towards the climax of the show that embodies joy. The pacing slows slightly when two performers are attempting to ‘awaken’ Dreyfus from her sleepy state, but it certainly doesn’t detract from the overall rhythm.

The show’s only flaw is its sound design, which relies too heavily on gags. During the show’s more conceptual moments, such as when we hear the squelching of early-life organisms in primordial mud, its effective. But these sound effects are overused, and they feel like a crude inclusion once the toilet humour kicks in.

Art2 Company brings a passionate show to kick off Edinburgh’s International Children’s Festival. Overall, And If I Were Me is a charismatically constructed piece of movement, and an engaging show for children who may be grappling with their own identities and emotions.

Review originally published for The Skinny: https://www.theskinny.co.uk/theatre/shows/reviews/and-if-i-were-me-the-studio-festival-theatre