Robert Tanitch reviews Kidd Pivot’s Assembly Hall at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London

Robert Tanitch reviews Kidd Pivot’s Assembly Hall at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London

Kidd Pivot is a Canadian contemporary dance theatre company based in Vancouver and led by its founder and artistic director, Crystal Pite. Once again, she joins forces with writer and actor Jonathon Young.

They were last seen at Sadler’s Wells in 2020, when they staged Revisor, their take on Gogol’s The Government Inspector. They are, as always, fascinated by how language and the body are connected.

The setting is an assembly hall, a small and bleak gymnasium, where the annual general meeting of an amateur association of medieval re-enactors threatened with closure, is taking place. The dancers sit in a semi-circle of chairs arguing amongst themselves about their annual quest event.

Their dialogue has been pre-recorded by actors and the dancers physically lip-synch to it. There is no sign language. It is all mouth, mime and body language; the whole body reacts with split second precision and dexterity.

The movement, challenging, innovative and humorous, is mesmerising, if not always comprehensible. The action alternates between reality and fantasy and the two are often blurred.

The assembly hall houses a tiny stage with cheap curtains. Here a whole series of striking Medieval tableaux is featured: a knight in very shining armour, a damsel in grotesque distress in a forest and soldiers fighting in a war with swords and lances.

The performance is surreal, weird and also philosophical. The production opens with a seemingly dead body whose head, arms and legs are being manipulated by a woman as if he were a doll. The chairman transforms into a half-naked king sporting an absurdly large crown. The images are original and unfailingly interesting.

Kidd Pivot’s Assembly Hall will undoubtedly increase Crystal Pike and Jonathon Young’s popularity.

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