An eloquently expressive piece about depression, Boy Blue’s Redd is a fittingly subdued follow-up to the company’s blistering 2017 show Blak Whyte Gray.
It’s choreographed and performed by company co-founder Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy with an ensemble of eight dancers, all clad in an institutional shade of grey. The group embodies Sandy’s recalcitrant grey matter, agents of neurological dysfunction patrolling and swarming around the edges of the narrow rectangle of light he inhabits. Like depressive trains of thought, these figures create compulsive, compelling patterns: pulsing with relentlessly insidious surges of energy, they galvanise the bewildered Sandy into dull motion and inaction.
Something suggestive of memory emerges as the blankly atomised ensemble dancers suddenly display chipper sociability and morph into a family portrait tableau, complete with stagey grins. Sandy tries to slide into place, fake smile intact, but the group fall away from him: he’s left in a gloomy void, accompanied only by the churn and echo of Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante’s score.
Redd excellently illuminates both the feeling of numbness that depression causes – the dancers muzzle their mouths, ears and eyes – and the attendant inward-facing anger. It isn’t always elegant, but it resonates. So too does the depiction of Sandy’s release from self-loathing.
As the beat quickens, he follows another dancer (the brilliantly dynamic Emma Houston) in something like a duet, dropping into freezes on the floor and rebounding into bouts of nimble footwork. It’s a resurfacing of agility, both physical and mental, from depression’s dark fog; finally dancing through light and air.