The intense performance of Pasionaria at Sadler’s Wells Theatre explores the future of our world as we continue into an age of reliance on technology. It questions the state of emotional detachment that humanity is inevitably moving towards. Pasionaria poses the question: are we losing our morals, individualism and passion?
As the performance begins I notice that it is difficult to see the details of the performers, almost as if looking into an old fuzzy TV screen. The stage is framed by a white neon light and the set is composed of a monotonously off-white room with a large staircase wrapping around and up through the stage. Dancers erupt into violent jerking, robotic movements as if they are run-down animatronics. The static and unnatural movements of the dancers represent the robots that we are becoming as technology engulfs everything around us. Then the screen lifts. All of the sudden the dancers’ faces are clear and I feel a shift of mood in the production. This possibly represents a lifting of a veil of ignorance or the audience has been sucked into Morau’s world and there is no longer a divide between his dystopia and our reality. Either way, the effect is impactful and adds an unexpected layer, figuratively and literally, to the performance. Accompanied by an eerie soundtrack of antique recorded voices, music and techno-esque soundscapes it is slightly uncomfortable to watch but the audience is intrigued. Reminiscent of The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror the creepiness of it all conveys a message about our society and the dark path we are going towards.
Throughout the production the unusual use of lighting adds interest to an otherwise minimalist set design. Dancers utilizing flashlights creates unusual spotlights and produces new textures throughout the stage. The effects of the window with the starscape and moon are particularly eye-catching and are an effective aid to the storytelling as it did get slightly confusing with all of the intensity on stage.
Pasionaria explores unsettling themes. It highlights the helplessness that we all feel knowing the world could be spiraling out of control. We are defenseless against the power of technology. Although the production tackles dark, anxiety-inducing subjects, it has an aesthetically pleasing, strangely calming visual identity. This dichotomy further accentuates the absurdity of the world we live in. Marcos Morau and La Veronal communicated one message very clearly: modernity has failed us.
Pasionaria played at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in Angel on May 3rd and 4th. For more info or to watch the trailer click here: www.sadlerswells.com
Pasionaria / Photography by Alex Font
Reviewed by Mia Goodman – Mia is currently finishing up her Art Direction degree at the University of the Arts London. Coming from an Italian-American background and living in both countries allowed her to explore her interests in traveling, cooking and the arts. Her passion for sustainability has led her to explore the intersectionality between the environment and creative industries.