THE SQUARE 2 by Scapino Ballet Rotterdam

I like Scapino Ballet. Their work always has a very strong linear dramatic content which hurtles along at break neck speed, challenging the audience to keep up.

The Square 2 follows in this tradition and is the second in a series of collaborative new works created by up and coming young talent.

Maybe this one should have been called The Rectangle as the action takes place on a rectangular area in front of a large rectangular frame. The performance is the combined work of three disparate talents – Ryan Djojokarso, Frenchman Antonin Comestaz, an ex-dancer of Scapino and Mario Bermudez Gil of the Spanish company Marcat Dance.

The pieces, more episodes really, join seamlessly with the amazing, non-stop soundtrack performed live on-stage by one-man-band Richard van Kruysdijk being the cement that binds them together. Framed by the suspended rectangle on an upstage platform, he performs his musical magic, initially on a bass guitar but more often on an array of electronic gizmos in a surprisingly small box. Behind him are projections, also of his making.

The unity of the laid back decor and beautiful costumes by Petra Finke and Loek van Cruchten confirms the old adage that less is more. The lighting by Xavier Spruit Bleeker is excellent throughout with some truly breathtaking effects. There was a particularly nice moment when the lights were lowered to about three meters above the stage, projecting a harsh unforgiving light on the dancers below.

The Sqaure2 tips its hat in the direction of Danté’s Devine Comedy, interpreting the journey from the inferno to paradise to the here and now and the challenges involved in establishing that there can be love in the time of corona.

But the final sequence put me more in mind of Danté’s Inferno itself as a mysterious, rather menacing masked figure wearing flowing robes slowly emerges from the darkness. His footwear can only be described as large grey blocks on which he slowly shuffles forward across the stage. Luckily he has a long wooden staff to help him on his way. For the dénouement of the show he reappears, but not alone. With his staff he manipulates a prone, limp androgynous figure across the stage, an arm pulled here and leg prodded there. The figure, finally on his/her/its own feet, disappears into the swirling mist in a truly spectacular climax.

As usual, Scapino does not disappoint and The Square is already proving to be a rich and fertile vein of exciting new work.   Michael Hasted  15th April 2022


Photo by Bas-Czerwinski