Monday, 4 November 2013

"Like a doll's house in the twilight zone"

Chelsea Hotel
Wales Millennium Centre, Weston Studio
Tues 29th Oct

For over a century Hotel Chelsea was a centre of creativity and artistic collaboration in New York City. Made famous in numerous songs, films and books the hotel has housed some of the most famous names in the world, including Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan and Madonna; it was also the place where Welsh-great Dylan Thomas succumbed to pneumonia.

Taking inspiration from the tales of real star residents (such as Patti Smith - title quote) and filling in the gaps with wonderfully imagined moments the ensemble had the audience hooked from the first moments with their amazing displays of control and strength. As their bodies writhed, tumbled and collided the four daring performers played out every shade of human connection and inevitable disconnection.

Special mention must go to Ros Haf Brooks whose pure physical precision made it impossible to take your eyes from her perfectly executed routines. When paired with the male strength of Alex Marshall Parsons the pair created some the most exciting pieces of physical theatre to glide over and crash onto the studio floor.
Ros Haf Brooks and Alex Marshall Parsons
photo by Hugo Glendinning

Providing some of the more tender moments Jessica Haener and Sebastian Langueneur played as a couple who blended beautiful naivety and sexual confusion. In a big city full of new experiences, surrounded by exciting and unconventional people it’s easy to get lost.

For the most part the film and projected images really enhanced the live action, offering another layer of imagery to the frantic physicality and original song. Also projected were the rare spoken moments, which sadly often jarred the pace and, although beautifully lyrical, the words just didn’t have the same visceral and emotional urgency as the movement.

The live, original score perfectly suited the shifting moods of the piece; effortlessly transitioning between moments of aggression, seduction and pure comedy. The band was multitalented and seamlessly integrated into the action, often moving around the space to highlight certain instruments. Although the music certainly enhanced the piece sometimes it would have been nice to have some silence, where the natural percussion of the performer’s bodies and their cries of exertion could have been heard. 

As one of Wales’ most established and respected multimedia dance companies Earthfall have once again blurred the lines between theatre, dance, film and live music to truly capture the drug-fuelled hedonism and pure sensuality that created the allure and atmosphere of the bohemian artists’ haven – Hotel Chelsea.

Ensemble: Ros Haf Brooks, Jessica Haener, Sebastian Langueneur, Alex Marshall Parsons.
Composition and Live Music: Frank Naughton, Sion Orgon, Felix Otaola

For more on Earthfall:
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The tour continues:
Riverside Studios, London:Tuesday 5th – Saturday 16th November, 7.45pm
0208 237 1111
The Lowry, Salford:Tuesday 19th & Wednesday 20th November, 7.00pm
0843 208 6010
Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury: Thursday 28th November, 8.00pm
01722 321744
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth: Tuesday 3rd December, 7.30pm
01970 623232

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