What’s Become of You? is Compagnie 111’s seventh production to be performed at the International Mime Festival. C111 are a remarkably versatile French company who produce stunningly complex large-scale visual works. Last year they brought a revived version of their 2003 show Plan B – an intricate juggling piece performed on a moving wall. The year before that they brought Sans Objet, a performanceinvolving two acrobats and a gigantic robotic arm. This year artistic director and founder Aurélien Bory has developed a pared-down dance piece with the internationally acclaimed flamenco dancer Stéphanie Fuster.
Many characteristics of the previous work remain: the production has a slick, minimalist, and almost industrial aesthetic, and there is a dedication to the task of synthesising the visual with the aural.
And yet What’s Become of You? is also a big departure. The focus appears to be less on the spectacle – with the performer functioning as a means to bring this into fruition – and more on the performer. This is a portrait piece. The various design elements are a support rather than the content.
Accepting this as it is – What’s Become of You? is a wonderful production. Fuster is an extremely talented dancer, presenting a sustained level of intenseness that is nevertheless varied and playful.
Likewise the accompanying musicians José Sanchez and Alberto Garcia display passion and indubitable talent. Finally, Bory provides visually captivating environments that also challenge Fuster and in the process add depth to her performance. She is confined in a box, made to dance in a giant pool, shrouded in smoke and doubled across the space in reflected images. The passage through various moods is seamless and perfectly paced.
And yet I can’t help but feel that Bory’s talents are not put to the best use here. Everything is in the service of Fuster, so that the inventiveness and technical brilliance of his experimentations with space and sound restricted.
This is an expert lesson in how to add dynamism and texture to a dance show. And it’s a mark of the quality of Bory’s other work that I could feel at all let down by this – but I simply missed the pageant, captivated as I was by the dance.
A final word on the London International Mime Festival – as this production marks its closure for 2014. It has been, as ever, expertly curated: bringing together exciting new work – such as Jakop Ahlbom and Man Drake – with trusted favourites like C111, Compagnie MPTA and Gecko. To me it is without doubt London’s theatrical event of the year.