• Jun 05,2013
  • In Review
  • By Niloy Thakur

Clod Ensemble – Zero- 4-5 June 2013, Sadler’s Wells

Zero is a new production by Clod Ensemble- the company whose work is a path breaking amalgam of physical theatre, dance and live music. Zero adds another jewel to its crown. A Sadler’s Wells commission,  it is directed and choreographed by Suzy Willson, set to music by Paul Clark. Wilson and Clark  are also the co-artistic directors of the company. Zero, is a five act show that dwells on the core of human passions of jealousy, desire and ambition depicted through the dynamics of nature and weather in particular.

Zero has a cast of 10 dancers, who draw their expertise from varied performing arts backgrounds. This adds multiple layers, enhancing the richness of the production. Different shades, shapes and forms merge into one in the space when they move together- in alignment or disperse in the choreography. The 7 musicians ease you into a  dream soundscape with their blues tunes, The music sets the mood of the show, going hand in hand with the choreography yet lending a lighter touch setting the perfect balance and pace to the experience as a whole.

A projection screen comes to life between each act and leads you into the next. It serves as an introduction to the force of nature that  leads to the  subsequent acts. An audio comes into play at these junctures. They are clips from old news material or acts from plays. Tracks overlap to present an audio collage taking the mood of confusion a few notches higher -. There are voice overs, custom made for the show, pre recorded from a script which feeds in to the cycle of thoughts on which the choregraphy is based.

Act one begins with geometric patterns of movements that break in haphazard asymmetry. There is the play of power and politics. There is rift and division leading to turmoil. Everything falls apart; the net result of human life is ‘Zero’. Act two brings in romanticism, a human passion similar to rain wind and mist from the nature perspective. There is flirting, desire, new relationships ending in quick breakups. Men and women resort to animal instincts. There is no trust or faith in each other. All that remains is an undying need to quench the thirst of desire. Movements for this section are based on pelvic thrusts and hip sways in the most graceful form, with finish and perfection. The choreography is brilliantly in sync with the underlying theme.

Act three begins more like a brewing kettle, bubbling with a shaking lid ready to be kicked off by the gathering steam. It exposes a boiling pot of stormy relationships where some chauvinist men take the upper hand and women sting back. Act four rolls in as a calmer and sets pace for the final act. Families break, values shatter, rivalries grow between siblings, disagreements between parents and young adults lead to frustration and confusion. The windy rainy day moves into stormy darkness, living becomes a challenge,  a struggle  to co-exist.

Zero is a tumultuous production that brings the audience to face the unsavoury facets of life. It effortlessly erases boundaries between the arts while posing existential questions which we are often reluctant to face up to. It’s a work that keeps our souls alive and makes us desire life beyond the hardships, a clear sky and a calm ocean in the end.

                                                                                    Protima Chatterjee

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