Peacock Theatre,
London

22 September 2021

Maggie Foyer

There is something so awe-inspiring in the posture of a perfectly balanced dancer/ acrobat when standing on the shoulders of a partner. The body is erect, at ease, but with every sense alert and utterly in the moment. And in the Motionhouse show, Nobody, there are seven such amazing artists.

Nobody, interrupted by Covid, has been a long time in the making and the pleasure at being back on stage surged into the auditorium in waves. The performers are all dance trained and most learnt their circus skill in the Motionhouse company. Their level of strength and skill is top class. They tumble on the ground and in the air, balance, catch and climb with the consummate ease. The only prop, a giant cube draped in cloth, provides a surface for projections of houses, while underneath is a climbing frame of aluminium bars providing a playground of eye-watering variety.

Nobody by Motionhouse
Photo: Dan Tucker

A loose narrative weaves the two acts together. The first is based in the high tension buzz of modern urban life, a vista of bright lights and skyscrapers where the dancers play alternating roles. First as black crows they represent our inner voices that, in isolation from normal social interaction, become distorted and damaging. The digital imagery (Logela Multimedia) is a Hitchcock inspired nightmare: Dark clouds of birds that dissolve into dozens of flying missiles or a huge shadowy silhouette of a hooked beak whispering weasel words in impressionable ears. The harsh sounds, punctuated by the raucous cawing add to the paranoia in this unsettling world.

Nobody by Motionhouse
Photo: Dan Tucker

It’s an exciting, high-energy space that Kevin Finnan exploits as flying birds alternate with dancers in bright casual clothes leaping parkour style through the urban jungle. The advantage in this battle for minds and bodies shifts back and forth and climaxes on an emotional high with a sensitive duet from Daniel Massarella and Shannon Kate Platt constrained within a small, open frame.

The second act opens on a backdrop of dark swelling waves that threatens to immerse the dancers, but the water recedes, blue skies appear, and the dancers climb back on the frame. The dancers find harmony in choreography synchronised in movement and purpose. The drama is now all in the human body, pushing the limits in a display of skill and nerves of steel. Forget social distancing, this is hands on as bodies fly through the air to be caught by welcoming arms. The dancers’ total commitment and trust hold the audience in spellbound silence making a moment of theatrical magic.