'Stop. Play. Rewind. – The Monopoly Game'.  Photo © Mats Bäcker

‘Stop. Play. Rewind. – The Monopoly Game’.
Photo © Mats Bäcker

Dansenshus, Stockholm, Sweden; December 13, 2014

Maggie Foyer

The Monopoly Game” is proving another sell-out success for Fredrik Benke Rydman, best known to British audiences for his “Swan Lake Reloaded” and “Insane in the Brain”. This production shows the same theatrical acumen: Rydman knowing just the right buttons to push to ensure audience pleasure. He taps into the current preoccupation with computer gaming and technology while keeping human relationships firmly at its heart.

Johan Liljedahl provides the original music to back Rydman’s innovative street cum contemporary choreography and the neat story line is tailored to nine individual and very talented dancers who briefly behave badly before doing a rewind and replay to find a better way.

A winning factor is the lighting from Palle Palmé who crafts moments of pure magic in collaboration with Rydman’s designs and the team of the video artists. These elements reach a peak of invention in the solo for Ellen Lindblad – the individualist in a purple tutu. As she dives onto the dance floor the white surface is instantly dyed black and continues to change in a dynamic pattern of colourful light and design that mirrors the choreography in a fascinating marriage of movement and high tech.

Ellen Lindblad in 'Stop. Play. Rewind. – The Monopoly Game'.  Photo © Mats Bäcker

Ellen Lindblad in ‘Stop. Play. Rewind. – The Monopoly Game’.
Photo © Mats Bäcker

Each dancer is a distinct personality type, bringing their particular spice to the mix. Fredrik ‘Kaos’ Wentzel is the upfront exhibitionist, with virtuoso technique as warranty, ensuring that the show doesn’t have a dull moment. Empathy, peace and love emanate from Maria Andersson and Kenny Lantz, the two initial ‘outcasts’, who bring contrasting gentleness in a sensitively choreographed interlude: two solos danced side by side, together in a quiet grey space.

While each individual dancer has their moment of fame, the piece relies heavily on ensemble co-operation both in the dance and in the stage construction, a task they leapt to with the alacrity of a fully paid-up stage crew.

The ‘game’ is born when a white cube is caught in a column of light and eagerly passed round the group until it falls and break into fragments. Inevitably this leads to squabbling over the pieces with the group’s rejection of the losers becoming increasingly spiteful and bullying. The rivalry builds to the ever popular dance competition but rather than congratulating the winner, he is brutally attacked. Finally, the two survivors, the dominant power-suited woman, Lisa Arnold, and the intense and driven sceptic, Daniel Koivunen, battle it out in a sequence where the lighting effects are in a class of their own. Woman-power wins but it is a pyrrhic victory as the stage crew (the real ones this time) rush on and in minutes they have stripped the stage bare and we are back to square one. Rewind and this time they play a friendlier game.

Rydman has scored again with a show that has its finger on the pulse of dance as it is happening on the streets with a team primed to ignite his vision.