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Jungle review at Dance Base, Edinburgh – ‘crass, baffling dance-drama’

Jungle at Dance Base, Edinburgh. Photo: Monika Chmielarz Jungle at Dance Base, Edinburgh. Photo: Monika Chmielarz
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Pink Mama Theatre’s Jungle purports to be about the legacy of colonialism. It is baffling, tedious and momentously misguided.

For 45 minutes, the audience (mainly white) is subject to the nonsensical antics of four (white, European) dancers, who occasionally sidle up to a solitary microphone and say things such as: “I feel sick, I have brown saliva.”

Vicky, a “British feminist” in a yellow shellsuit top, shrieks and titters as she checks her Instagram, via which she discovers that the end is nigh. A gaudy newsflash projected on to the back wall shows a dictator in geisha make-up commanding what’s left of humanity to “dance or die”. And so they dance.

All four performers capably plunge at full throttle through jolting choreography to a thumping bassline. Vicky gives exaggerated licks to an ice cream. Carmen, a “Venezuelan trans woman”, receives erotic text messages from an American soldier. A demurely dressed missionary hisses at a hairbrush.

Occasionally, vague notions of fascination and exploitation emerge from their interactions that could, at a stretch, gesture towards issues of imperialism. But this is a crass work, woefully short on wit, wisdom and sensitivity. When considering colonialism, nobody really needs to see a quartet of white folk skipping around on stage.

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