If I was feeling particularly pretentious I’m sure I could have found some deep and meaningful metaphors and subtext in ‘Badlands’ at Lakeside Arts Centre. But quite frankly it was the biggest load of pretentious rubbish I’ve seen in a long time. I’m no stranger to arty ‘out there’ performances but this one just took the biscuit.

It was the biggest load of pretentious rubbish I’ve seen in a long time.

The performance was split into two parts, ‘Amstatten’ allegedly “an allegory on fear and confinement” and ‘Badlands’ a story about love stories set in 1950s America. Both parts of the performance had some surreal elements although ‘Badlands’ was definitely the better of the two pieces.

‘Amstatten’ opened the show with a single spotlight, a chair and a person wearing a bag over their head crawling around a rectangle of white sticky tape. I’m assuming that the white tape marked the boundaries of her ‘confinement’. But there were a number of moments when Louise Tanoto, the performer, just looked like a bad version of a French mime, minus the face paint and stripy jumper.

The whole 17 minutes of the piece seemed to be a culmination of rollie pollies and spinning round in circles.

The whole 17 minutes of the piece seemed to be a culmination of rollie pollies and spinning round in circles. To be perfectly honest, I’ve seen better moves thrown in Ocean. I’m sure that the intentions behind ‘Amstatten’ were very well thought out and that a lot of work went into the performance. It’s just a shame that it didn’t really translate at all on stage. Tanoto looked as though she was having a fit at one point.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve seen better moves thrown in Ocean

After a short pause where one of the backstage crew ripped up the white tape from the floor we were thrown into the surreal world that was ‘Badlands’. Victoria Hoyland opened the piece with an awkward but frank discussion of relationships; talking about sex, getting married, arguing and having honey on toast on a Sunday. It was actually quite nice to have some sort of introduction to the piece before it started something which ‘Amstatten’ could have done with. However, it just got weirder from there on.

Was I there to watch people on stage having sex?

When Victoria said she didn’t want us (the audience) to watch her and Jake Ingram Dodd kissing during her introduction to the piece, I thought she was saying it as part of her awkward persona on stage. 5 minutes later, after a lot of passionate kissing, the removal of most of their clothing and the scene ending with a freeze frame of the two of them doing doggy style I could see why she didn’t want us to watch. At one point, I was convinced that they were going to go all the way and I wasn’t sure what I’d got myself into watching. Was I there to watch contemporary dance or to watch people on stage having sex?

It just got weirder from there on.

Luckily, there was actually some contemporary dance in the piece. Jake Ingram Dodd’s dancing was quite good though at times a little messy. It was nice to see some proper dancing instead of the previous ‘movement to music’ that had been in ‘Amstatten’. The music choices throughout the whole performance were interesting but I especially enjoyed the use of Indie Bollywood during Jake’s dance after the sex scene. Another dance scene which was really good was with both Victoria and Jake. They managed to portray the emotions of arguing, having sex, breaking up, making up, having more sex all through the medium of dance. It was the best scene by far.

I especially enjoyed the use of Indie Bollywood

All in all, ‘Badlands’ was a surreal and unhinged performance. The contemporary dance elements were small and significantly overpowered by the weirder aspects of the show. Too much thought behind the stage and not enough substance on stage.

Star Rating 1

Emma Lawton

For more information about ‘Badlands’, visit the lakeside ‘s website here

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