Rambert2 – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

Image Contribution:
Foteini Christophilopoulou 

Choreographer:  Benoit Swan Pouffer, Rafael Bonachela, Sharon Eyal & Gai Behar

Eight hundred hopefuls from across the globe applied to the fresh, younger sibling of the long-established Rambert. This sister corporation – Rambert2, would accept a mere thirteen of the exceptional dancers. Focusing on this new talent, Rambert2 showcases their abilities to shape the future of movement with a triple bill of original dance pieces.

A convulsing mass of flesh, Grey Matter draws us inwards to ourselves. Largely a group composition, the swaying of cells and bulk works in tandem with the music of GAIKA. It’s a vivid soundtrack, matching with the involuntary muscular twitches from dancers. Choreographed by artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer the movement shows the considerable talent of the dancers serving as a unit. The shifting cellular patterns, somehow working as one body – yet each an induvial performer.

There is not a toe out of line, no comment can be remarked to the quality of the choreography outside of its exceptionally high standard. This is why Rambert is among the best. They possess an ability to work as one erupting nebulous of thought throughout Grey Matter, yet it’s not difficult to get to grips with each individuals way of movement – who has grander curvature, tighter shoulder pops or exaggerated expression.

Remnants of a traditional form of movement remain, laced into small fluid steps located in all three of the performances, though notably in the finale. Rambert2 above other creations from the company has youth at the forefront of its intention. With this in mind, it’s the second piece named after a previous dancers postcode which looks to the contentious trials of the future.

Dystopian aggression, a building resentment which combusts onstage is at the heart of E2 7SD, the shortest of the triple bill. Length aside it has the prospect of being a powerful piece, losing this ability in its sound sculpture. Conor Kerrigan and Aishwarya Raut manage to communicate with the audience well, their bodies snapping into one another in a volatile movement, building slowly upon one another. The rhythm is not at fault, lines are attempted above the already heavy beats of the score as they become drowned out, losing focus. The overlaying sound work seeks to enhance but draws attention away from the dance.

Killer Pig is what Rambert2 has been building up to this evening. Choreographers Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar achieve a hypnotic form of physicality within their performers. To make the dance feel inhuman, pumping chests with dancers on demi-pointe. How limbs pulse and dislodge in synchronised perfection is mesmeric, the entire routine feels unnatural, but this is the desired effect. Their recognisable dance forms, as previously stated, several in the form of cabaret. Gnarling fingers contort the once majestic ballet swan, technically it is the superior of the three.

While an extreme piece, with every dancer bringing an unnervingly grisly performance element, the endurance works both ways. With dancers visibly draining from the experience – the audience finding themselves tiring of Killer Pig’s multiple false climaxes.

Rambert is the envy of others in its field, though Rambert2 has an odd sense of pacing. For a generally short production, it feels drawn out. Taking aim at the future of the movement, the harshness of the dance is strikingly bold, Killer Pig, in particular, an amalgamed swaying of disturbing, yet enticing visuals. If this is where the sister company of Rambert is heading, it is succeeding in latching our curiosity.

Review originally published for Reviews Hub: https://www.thereviewshub.com/rambert2-kings-theatre-edinburgh/

For information on Rambert: http://www.rambert.org.uk/mixed-bills/rambert2/

An Evening of Eric and Ern @ King’s Theatre

Image contribution:
Eric & Ern

Performed by Ian Ashpitel & Jonty Stephens

There are few great double acts, and none hold quite the same place in the hearts of the nation as Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. Proficient in puns, the unfortgettable maestros of timing live on and on and on in An Evening of Eric and Ern.

A veritable pick ‘n’ mix of their best-suited gags for the touring production, the show has a sketch everyone will remember. Even those who didn’t live to see the pair will have some sense of recognition twitched by either Mr Memory or the pair’s duet of Bring Me Sunshine.

Writers and performers Jonty Stephens (Eric) and Ian Ashpitel (Ernie) forgo parts of the narrative dealing with Morecambe’s passing and Wise’s subsequent stint alone for a two-hour run crammed full of humour, song and dance. For fans, there is a deep emotional link. An immense wave of nostalgia fills the theatre as the audience smirk before jokes – already knowing each punchline.

It takes a frosted heart to not be thawed by the sunshine given off by Stephens and Ashpitel. The joy, evident in the faces of the pair, shows that this isn’t so much a job for them but a tribute. The audience interaction, natural flow in delivery and acknowledgement of flubs, technical issues or rowdy fans all work towards a pleasant experience.

Rather than imitate, Ashpitel and Stephens replicate the duo in an astonishing manner; every aspect has been studied, honed and perfected, whether this is visually or vocally but most notably in comic timing and delivery. Their proficiency shines in everything from the tiny facial tics as Stephens askews Morecambe’s signature specs to Ashpitel’s song sequences.

Despite solid performances, a fine selection of routines and charming guest singer Shona White, the production suffers from losing its original narrative. So much heart is lost in the removal of Ernie’s tenure alone, the passing of Eric and the more unique interactions that the pair have. The jaunt down memory lane is enjoyable, but it falls short in offering something new.

An Evening of Eric and Ern is everything you suspect it to be – a magnificent embodiment of Morecambe and Wise’s greatest sketches presented by accomplished performers. It neglects, though, to do little more than this.

Review originally published for The Skinny:
https://www.theskinny.co.uk/theatre/shows/reviews/an-evening-of-eric-and-ern

Production Touring:
http://www.ericandlittleern.co.uk/