Experimental feature

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Experimental feature

Blaze is back at the Peacock three years after it originally knocked us sideways with its physical verve and hail-fellow-extraordinarily-well-met air. It is still, I happily report, a show of fizzing energies; of brightest dance from a wildly ingratiating cast; of dazzling design by Es Devlin (a monolith of faux packing-cases, bathtubs, refrigerators, teeny platforms); of eye-boggling projections by Memo Akten; of loud and jolly pop music and an infectious delight in being where it is.

It is also an entertainment exactly, cunningly honed for its purpose, which is to catch its public in a net of movement, unrelenting – but who cares? – and skilfully made to cajole us into submission to the popular dance of the moment that is consecrated by television and YouTube, brash as a riot, and irresistible. I love its all-out eagerness, and the skill with which Anthony van Laast, its director, has marshalled his forces, and I love especially the extravagant bravura of its three breakdancers.

These astounding chaps produce marvels of spinning, twisting and air-turns, creating and unravelling knots of impossibilities that defeat the body’s musculature with a Lisztian virtuosity. I think them prodigiously good. That they wear Italian Futurist combat trousers, apparently designed by Marinetti, is just another of the wild surprises of this show.

The costumes, indeed, are a fascination. Here we see clothes as statements of identity quite as socially assertive, as madcap, as those worn by the Incroyables and Merveilleuses in Paris after the 1789 Revolution. Adapted for the stage, these outfits are far more intriguing than any worn in a Fashion Week by rachitic (and apparently lightly stunned) young models.

I greatly admire Blaze, its driving momentum, its frankness, its jollity, even its closing and ultra-eager involvement with its audience. One dismal number – a couple having hell on a sofa – should be jettisoned on grounds of poor taste and worse choreography. It is, otherwise, the merriest of events. Ninety minutes. No interval. Tremendous dancing. Irresistible good humour. And those three heroes sensationally breaking. Bravo!


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