If you have ever been involved in a car crash you’ll know that while it is happening your perception is heightened and everything slows down as the incident develops. It’s like you are a spectator, watching from afar as your destiny unfolds, out of your control. Such is the case with Jasper van Luijk’s Quite Discontinuous, subtitled Elegy About Dissolution, which has been reprised after its original successful performances in 2013.
The premise of the piece is a car crash and its aftermath. The first few minutes of the accident develop, as I real life, in slow motion with fate controlling the outcome. As the episode develops the four dancers are swept backwards and forwards as though on a stormy sea, unable to control their own destinies.
The second part of Quite Discontinuous is post-accident with one on the protagonists, now naked, dead. It is all about coming to terms and accepting death. The three distraught survivors move through a kaleidoscope of emotions and reactions, desperately trying to understand and accept what has happened. They toss and manipulate the girl’s lifeless body like a rag doll at one point trying to re-animate it by supporting it upright as they move the dead limbs in a grotesque but heart-rending parody of life.
Then recriminations start as each survivor tries to own the dead soul and a series of near-pietà tableaux unfold, culminating with the two boys dancing out their grief, at times almost like wrestlers, until finally, some sort of closure is achieved.
The four dancers – Ivan Ugrin, Malika Berney, Pauline Briguet and Winter Wieringa were excellent, their agile bodies portraying the emotions that their passive inexpressive faces belied.
The staging was simple but incredibly effective. Although there were long passages of silence, Lennart Siebers’ music always enhanced and amplified the action. But for me it was the lighting by Marcel Slagter and Jasper van Luijk that was outstanding. Most of the piece was, at any one time, lit by a single light source. For the opening sequence the vast Korzo stage was lit only by three or four bare neon tubes laid on the ground across the front of the stage – what we would have called foot-lights in the old days. I particularly liked the two mobile lamps on little trollies that were moved by the performers to explore and accentuate the action, producing, as they moved, a dramatic shadowscape on the room’s austere back wall.
Utrecht’s SHIFFT, in co-production with De Nieuwe Oost, has produced an impressive piece of dance theatre which will stay in my mind for some time to come.
Michael Hasted 1st December 2018