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Brighton Festival: Zero review at Dome Corn Exchange

Zero is a tragedy in five acts, a meditation on the weather, moods, passions and desires and a show which puts live blues/jazz music in counterpoint with convulsive, choreographed bodies. It combines a range of styles and sounds as its performers move between graceful synchronicity or tortured, jealous conflict, knotted around one another.

Singers Johnny Mars and Hazel Holder provide stunning vocal accompaniment to a five-piece band performing catchy, compelling songs and thrilling music throughout. A recorded soundtrack of radio voices splices snippets of interviews with people about love, loss, conflict and politics, making this as much an auditory as a visual experience.

Suzy Willson’s choreography has traces of Lecoq, Bausch and Shechter, but these are reminders rather than obvious borrowings. The performers are caught between expressive fluidity, especially in duets and ensemble work, and a more violent choreography that folds in on itself, where people are isolated despite being in groups, echoing others but never connecting with them.

Willson’s eye for the power of breaking established movement patterns is revelatory. Her performers create their own visual language onstage: tough, savvy, a combination of classical rigour and popular culture irony and playfulness.

The piece is about taking risks, about making the leap, about the countdown to that critical moment. The recognisable moods of the wonderful blues songs are undercut by the tonal shifts and the restlessness of the dancing. It creates lasting images: an old woman with too many walking sticks, a man about to jump, duets of desire or complicity, of inarticulate, broken or remembered love.

Production Information

Dome Corn Exchange, May 21-22

Clod Ensemble
Suzy Willson
Tracy Gentles
Cast includes
Robert Bell, Zoe Bywater, Sarah Cameron, Karima El Amrani, Antonia Grove, Maciej Kuzminski, Elizabeth Mischler, Ramona Nagabczynska, Uri Roodner, Alessandro Ruggeri, Johnny Mars, Hazel Holder
Running time
1hr 10mins

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