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PARK – Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London.

Park, Sadler's Wells Theatre, LondonOriginally performed in 2004, Jasmin Vardimon’s Park proves to be an exquisite showcase of timeless significance which still manages to feel fresh ten years on. With a cast of only eight mesmerising performers playing multiple characters, (not all of which are human!) you would be forgiven for thinking there are twice as many, due to the full on blast of choreography which explodes onstage.

The performance stylistically recounts a typical day in the life of a park – a place where people visit to escape their mundane, depressing lives. A homeless man, a busker, a bully, a lover; each character intricately portrayed through dance, text and fitting costumes engulfed in a soundtrack so varied you might think their iPod has been left on shuffle. The clever staging of each performer makes every entrance an unforeseeable surprise. In fact, there is so much happening at the same time it becomes tricky to know where to look – I seem to blink and miss some poignant large graffiti writing appear on the floor – although this does highlight the fantastical element of the production beautifully.

The seductive mermaid (Silke Muys) is captivating and on many occasions steals the show with her dominant persona. From elegantly moving across the stage with a sleeping bag ‘tail’ and dancing as a giant form of herself to gliding across the space with plastic bags on her feet – the fluidity of her performance is breathtaking. However, each performer plays their part in maintaining the high quality of the piece with smooth transitions, as the stage is at no point ever left with hesitation.

At two hours running time, the stamina of the ensemble is mind-blowing and their strength never falters. Although I could go on and on about how aesthetically the piece is perfectly flawless to the untrained eye, the ambiguous connotations and blurred narrative at times leaves the audience confused, having to continually make up our own assumptions about how the vignettes link to each other and consequently what message the overriding narrative holds. The sparse dialogue is also at times inaudible over the music and raises the question about whether it is needed at all. Nevertheless the strong, emotional choreography of each character’s individual journey within it’s own framework is engaging throughout and even the unpredictable and absurd gruesome finale is accepted through the bold, candid approach of the collective.

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Reviewed 10/11/2014

By Natalie Green

10th – 11th November 2014
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, EC1.

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