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Review of Betroffenheit at Sadler’s Wells

Crystal Pite & Jonathon Young - Betroffenheit - Wendy D Photography
Crystal Pite & Jonathon Young – Betroffenheit – Wendy D Photography

It’s a triumph is Betroffenheit. It’s also life as art conjured, somehow, by Jonathan Young from a devastating family tragedy with Crystal Pite, the choreographic phenomenon, his friend. This show of text and dance has a talented company of six dancers, every one of those on stage dancing with superb fluidity and finesse.

There’s a single paragraph in the programme about the ‘incident’ that occurred that germinated this show. Don’t miss it.

This is dance as deepest grief, as therapy and then there’s pleasure. There’s fun and laughter as the lure of addiction is explained with sequins and pink feather fans as an astonishing array of dance styles are harnessed, including Latin and Tap (the most magnificent Tap.) 1930s Berlin-style Cabaret is there too. Tonal variations ensure the audience is never overwhelmed by the suffering it describes as a living negotiation.

The text leads the way, there is repetition, it guides you. What may not be understood at first becomes clear, what is being performed is working on many layers of intricacy but effortlessly, finding the flow between layers as work at the very highest level can do.

Special mention must be made of the set designer, Jay Gower Taylor. He has found the perfect metaphor to describe by the means of physical space, the confines of depression and also the emergence from that state. There are two scenes of great power which rely on his innovation, which I do not remember seeing in the show when I first saw it at Sadler’s last year. In the second-half Gower Taylor uses the height of the Sadler’s stage and effective simplicity in the set design combined with lighting (by Tom Visser) to describe the enormity of the chasm that must be crossed to reach the other side of grief, to survive.

Jonathan Young has a message of hope for all those who grieve. It’s there, in the pain, is what the show is about.

This is a better show than it was when first performed last year, tighter. It’s fantastic.

5 Star Rating

Review by Marian Kennedy

Betroffenheit evokes the state of shock and bewilderment that is all encompassing in the wake of a disaster. Touching on themes of loss, trauma, addiction and recovery, Betroffenheit is a boundary-stretching hybrid of theatre and dance. The piece is co-created by Kidd Pivot and Electric Company Theatre.

Bryan Arias
David Raymond
Cindy Salgado
Jermaine Spivey
Tiffany Tregarthen
Jonathon Young

Listings information
Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young
Kidd Pivot and Electric Company Theatre
Sadler’s Wells, EC1R
Tuesday 11 & Wednesday 12 April 2017


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