Saturday 24th September

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Shadowland: An acrobatic triumph of dance

| Dance, Kids, Theatre | 24/03/2014

Pilobolus' Shadowland at the Peacock Theatre
Pilobolus' Shadowland at the Peacock Theatre
Rating:

Showing until 30 March 2014 at the Peacock theatre, Shadowland is an immersive, smart, ingenious blend of live-acting and human shadow-puppetry. The American Pilobolus Dance Theatre shows us exactly that there is more to a shadow than meets the eye. This is a clever production, where the mastery of shadow-play is not only clearly evident, but is taken to the very edge of can be achieved through this medium. Shadowland transplants you into a world where reality and illusion clash through the entwining of bodies. However, you’re left feeling, that though the performance was faultless, the story somewhat let down what otherwise was a thoroughly immersive show.

Shadowland is a charming show, where its simplicity is its most endearing feature. With only a light, a few basic props, and a white canvas, the twelve strong cast of Pilobolus were able to summon the strange, wonderful, and bizarre imaginative world of Shadowland into the Peacock Theatre. You think you know what the human body is capable of, but the Pilobolus cast, through their ingenious placing of their limbs and torsos, morphing together to produce silhouettes of the animals and monsters of Shadowland.

Pilobolus' Shadowland at the Peacock Theatre

Pilobolus’ Shadowland at the Peacock Theatre

The story is a coming-of-age story which centres on a young girl who yearns for independence from her parents. The girls only escapism is her dreams, where she quickly finds herself sucked into the shadows of Shadowland. Her journey through Shadowland seems at times disjointed, although its presentation on-stage was faultless; encountering, strange, unusual, and at times terrifying creatures, the young girl soon finds herself transformed into a hybrid creature, a ‘dog-girl’. It was at this point where structural Shadowland ebbs towards a somewhat dry passage, until its heart-warming ending. It seems a shame that for the brilliance of the acrobatic dance, the story is its weakest link. However, at the heart of Shadowland is a celebration of the love of a strange and wonderful world, presented in a thrilling and elegant acrobatic dance, which Pilobolus more than accomplish.

The twelve strong Pilobolus cast deserve a great deal of praise. Their strong chemistry allows Shadowland to effortlessly move from scene to scene. At no stage are the on-stage performances lacking in either enthusiasm or pure skill. Despite the weakness of the story, the cast endeavour to ensure that the performance is awe-inspiring through their elaborate dance and use of shadows. A special mention has to be given to the girl (and later ‘dog-girl’) who was sucked into Shadowland, and general rock of the show, Lauren Yalango.

Pilobolus' Shadowland at the Peacock Theatre

Pilobolus’ Shadowland at the Peacock Theatre

Shadowland is an immersive experience into a strange and wonderful world. Pilobolus have shown what shadows on a blank white canvas can achieve. The two final encores, two cleverly choreographed postcards from New York and London underline the brilliant potential that Pilobolus have. Shadowland is an engaging, slick, high-energy, and inspiring show- the five (possibly longer) minutes of solid applause from the audience at the curtain-call indicated how easily you can become immersed into the bizarre and sensational world that is Shadowland.

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