Theatre Review: CLOD ENSEMBLE: PLACEBO – The Lowry, Salford

CLOD ENSEMBLE: PLACEBO. Photo Credit: Camilla Greenwell

CLOD ENSEMBLE: PLACEBO. Photo Credit: Camilla Greenwell

Infectious movement becomes the medicine in this catchy dance experiment – or is it just another placebo?

The placebo effect is defined as being the positive outcome of using a fake drug or treatment, which has no actual beneficial properties other than the patient’s own beliefs that it does.

In a clever and somewhat manipulative way, director Suzy Willson recreates this process by using interdisciplinary dance performances on the stage to trick the audience into feeling a certain way. She discovers what gives the audience pleasure, what numbs the pain, what is real and what is fake by using experimental movements and repetition.

A series of experiments engages both the dancers and the audience together, by showing every day abstract movements and small acts on stage while the audience monitors how it makes them feel.

The dancers from Clod Ensemble use some very catchy moves and have the audience in bursts of laughter at some of the scenarios presented. Their movements, even the simplest of ones, are often repeated, distorted, re-arranged and repeated again, each time relaying a different feel to the scene in search for perfection. However, the dancers soon find that on their search for perfection too many chefs spoil the broth and the placebo effect doesn’t quite work out as they crumble under the pressure of too many instructions.

The seven-man dance group showcase a wide range of dance style, from ballet to contemporary to hip-hop, all in sync with an eclectic mix of sounds – euphoric club tracks and classical renditions. It is a beautiful performance considering all seven dancers on the stage often perform a different style of dance, at a different speed, to the same song and in the same space as each other. It’s a wonder at how they don’t ever bump into each other.

Although at times it may seem like the dance routines have been repeated one too many times, it is clear to see the effect that light, sound, colour and instruction eventually have on the brain and how much one’s perception on it changes as it unfolds.

This strong performance is gripping, however at times can be a bit confusing and lacking any real storyline. With a thought provoking twist to it, it turns into more of a creative play session rather than a feel-good dance performance. However, with strong and clean movements and bold visuals to get it through, it is pleasantly enjoyable is an interesting performance to experience.

3 out of 5 stars

CLOD ENSEMBLE: PLACEBO runs at The Lowry, Salford until 13 October 2018