Jasmin Vardimon’s Park

Reviewer's Rating

Reworked ten years after it was first produced, Park overreaches itself as a chaotic, multi-media, inter-disciplinary performance.  Thankfully there are several stand-out dance sequences scattered throughout the show.

The characters who haunt the park – which is made up of a grotty fountain, some fencing and a bench – include a homeless man looking for love, a bag lady, a street performer and a tourist. They are all about to be displaced by a property developer and although the plot is supposedly more complex, Park is not so much the narrative that it claims to be, but an exploration of character.

The performance begins with Burrough’s delivering a monologue, while random words of his and related images are projected onto the set. Thankfully Park does away with the gratuitous use of ‘innovative technologies’ (never mind that projectors stopped being innovative several hundred years ago) soon afterwards. The inaudible, badly acted soliloquies are also few and far between, serving no purpose except to make the piece more ‘multi-media’.

Of course, the dancers don’t just dance; they sing (in French), act, play basketball, perform awesome acrobatics and do graffiti. Unfortunately they spend so much time showing off these skills that we don’t get to see as much dancing as I would’ve liked. The few group dance sequences don’t add much to the characterisation or ‘plot’ either.

That said, the dances that are good are very good. Vardimon is creative in witty, bizarre and often funny ways. There are several sexually aggressive pas de deux involving clever use of props, the bag lady’s layered bustle is used to great comic effect, and it seems logical now, that mermaid’s tails are made out of sleeping bags.

In many of the more chaotic sequences, Fourmi (charming and multi-talented as the street performer), lurks in the background playing in the fountain and getting up to slapstick hijinks.

The show also uses a wide range of styles from hip hop and breakdance to Nakamura’s outstanding, almost balletic, solo. To complement these we get everything, musically, from a capella to electro. The dancers are fantastic and Muys in particular really gets the vulnerability of her character across.

If you are a Vardimon fan, the gems in the performance are worth the disorder surrounding them.