DAWNS YSBRYDION/GHOST DANCE - Theatre ☆☆☆3
Showing from - Monday, August 24, 2015 through till Saturday, August 29, 2015
Edinburgh Fringe 2015 - Edinburgh
Rachel Elderkin | Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Dawns Ysbrydion/Ghost Dance’s highly physical portrayal of its story is expertly choreographedTheatr Genedlaethol Cymru is the Welsh-language national theatre of Wales. In Dawns Ysbrydion /Ghost Dance, they bring together two stories of threatened cultures; the native peoples of North America towards the end of the nineteenth century and the construction of Wales’ Tryweryn reservoir to provide water for the city of Liverpool. With the village of Capel Celyn levelled and the community moved out, the reservoir was perceived as a threat to Welsh national culture and on the night of February 9th, 1963, three man braved the snows to plant a bomb on site in an act of political protest.
Three female performers relate the story of these parallel experiences through a combination of the Welsh language, sound, movement and a floor filled with rectangular blocks of polystyrene. For non-Welsh speakers the rather brilliant app ‘Sibwrd’ translates the words spoken on stage and whispers them in your ear – an essential aid in a performance where action and dialogue are so closely connected.
As the performers scramble around each other in a clearly choreographed struggle, the polystyrene adds an uncomfortable screech in accompaniment to the electronic sounds performed live by Welsh electro artist, Y Pencadlys. The sheets break up, creating a snow-like effect and later they are destroyed in anger by the performers, cleared to make way for a city of small blocks. In another moment a sound like roaring water fills the theatre, drowning the voices of the performers as they sing of Capel Celyn’s fate.
Dawns Ysbrydion/Ghost Dance’s highly physical portrayal of its story is expertly choreographed and the combination of speech, sound and movement creates an engaging, and understandable, impression of the emotional attachment a community may feel to its homeland. The dialogue switches fluidly between North America and Wales and often the performers could be speaking about either culture, so similar are their fates.
It ends in a cacophony of noise, the performers trembling and twitching their bodies around the stage, trancelike, echoing something between a Ghost Dance and a rave. It’s an effective close, but continues a little too long. However, the phenomenon of the Ghost Dance is a fitting epithet for this story of two parallel cultures both trying to find their way, and keep hold of their past, in a new and changing world.
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