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Words Worth

Published Thursday 15 November 2012 at 13:47 by Neil Norman

Former Rambert dancer Yorke-Edgell created her company Yorke Dance Project in Los Angeles in 1998 and relocated to the UK in 2009. It is no surprise, therefore, to discover that there is a vestigial Americana coursing through her work. Of the five pieces on show in this bizarre cocktail of an evening, three are US-influenced in spite of the fact that only one is by an American choreographer - John Pennington. The two lengthiest works are supplied by Yorke-Edgell - Noted (in which she appears as Marilyn Monroe) and City Limitless, a distillation of Jack Kerouac’s life and writing.

A scene from Words Worth at Lilian Baylis Studios, London

A scene from Words Worth at Lilian Baylis Studios, London Photo: Tristram Kenton

The problem with this kind of catch-all approach is that it looks like a random compilation of work - purpose, direction or thematic coherence are conspicuously absent.

Yorke-Edgell herself is a good dancer but an unadventurous choreographer. Her opening piece, Noted, inspired by letters from a variety of historical figures, is undeniably well-dressed but fairly conservative in its groupings and gestural impact. The JS Bach section is the best by far with the composer portrayed in triplicate in a blizzard of hand-flourishing, bowing and smirking. The Hunter S Thompson section is a close runner-up and danced with formidable energy and Gonzo aggression by the ensemble in classic Thompson garb of hats, shades and Bermuda shorts to Thomas Preston’s comically vicious score.

The remaining pieces are a very mixed bag, however. Pennington’s The Goodman Trio, apparently selected from a longer work, is unmemorable and Anton du Beke’s swirling ballroom tribute to Hollywood musicals is slick and vacuous. As for the Kerouac-inspired City Limitless, there is more prancing than dancing and it suffers from an over-literal interpretation of the writer’s words and a facelessly illustrative choreography as if a forger were trying to copy a Rembrandt with wax crayons. Among the hardworking cast, Hannah Windows is a sparkling and attractive presence, and Jack Jones and Alastair Postlethwaite are confidently expressive.

Production information

Lilian Baylis Studio, London, November 14-15

Yolande Yorke-Edgell, John Pennington, Alessio Barbarossa, Anton du Beke
Cath James
Caroline Hotchkiss, Jack Jones, Maurizio Montis, Pari Naderi, Valentino Porcu, Alastair Postlethwaite, Amy Thake, Hannah Windows, Yolande Yorke-Edgell
Running time:
1hr 40mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014