[Arts Hub] Catalogue

12/03/2015 Reviewed by Deborah Stone

★★★★ – The ways in which our identities are created, singly and in relation to one another, is a perfect topic for this remarkably accomplished work by mixed-ability performance company Rawcus.

Catalogue features as part of the Dance Massive festival but it is certainly not simply dance. The work is a skillful blend of theatrical performance, visual art, design and movement exploring the multiplicity of individual identities.

The set consist of 8 stark cubes, stacked in two rows of four on top of one another. As they are illuminated singly or in groups we are introduced to individuals whose personal variations are far more significant than the stark labels of ‘disabled’ or ‘able-bodied’ would suggest.

These live performances are supported by the use of striking photographic portraits from visual artists Gillian Wearing and Candice Breitz and by and a vivid and eclectic soundscape constructed by Jethro Woodward.

The players begin by running and towards the end of the work it becomes clear that they are in pursuit of their own identities.  In the course of the work we are asked to consider the many ways our identities can be defined by gender, name and age but also by belief or habit and – most significantly – by the relationships we have.

In most of the work the performers are isolated in their cubes but as they communicate in words, mirror one another in movements or respond to outside stimulus their selves are revealed in their responses.

The work sags a little about two thirds of the way through and becomes a little repetitive but it revives with striking new segments including one of the tenderest moments, a graceful pas de deux between a man in a wheelchair and an able-bodied woman. Their movements mirror those of an able-bodied couple in another cube but are much more compelling with their other-worldly beauty.

Director Kate Sulan has done an extraordinary job getting the most from such a varied group of performers and creating a work of beauty and meaning.  I hope this work draws an audience far beyond those who might usually attend work by a mixed-ability company.

by Rawcus
Arts House, Meat Market
10-14 March
Four stars out of five