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Joli Vyann: Imbalance review at Underbelly Circus Hub, Edinburgh – ‘lyrical acrobalance piece’

Olivia Quayle and Jan Patzke in Imbalance Olivia Quayle and Jan Patzke in Imbalance. Photo: Moving Productions
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The clacking and clicking of the mechanical age was supposed to have vanished when the digital age took over to make everything run smoothly and silently. But the advent of personal devices means the world has got noisy again – with added purpose and demand for action behind every beep, alert and ringtone.

Jan Patzke and Olivia Quayle, aka Joli Vyann, build on acrobalance routines for themed sequences that take their vocabulary from the babble of mobile phones, tablets and laptops as a couple communicate (or not) around a table and two chairs. They kick off by tapping away in the dark, their faces Matrix-like abstract in the screen glow. Soon they are juggling mobiles, taking selfies, turning tables, often on different levels as Patzke twirls and spins his partner.

The sections shift into another gear as the couple finally throw away the phones and attempt to share quality time. The physical impact of the decision is tangibly emotional without the barrier of the personal device barriers. Things can’t last of course and the phones soon come back – this time with a darker tinge as the media shows its flipside of evil hashtags, trolling and cyberbullying.

Jonathan Lunn’s choreography is lyrical, laced with gentle irony and doesn’t waste a move while constantly finding new rhythms and terminology to create a narrative. Patzke and Quayle bring a compelling physicality that comes not only from technique but also an impressive resonance as a duo. Dougie Evans’ driving soundtrack includes sound collages and loops shaped from the technological jungle sounds of devices, apps and printers – perfectly showcased in the Skype/text routine with lush strings punctuated by loops of text pings and that trademark ringtone.

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Lyrical acrobalance piece inspired by mobile phones is compellingly laced with gentle irony and a darker side