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100 Wounded Tears
Published on Thursday, 13 August 2009

I have been waiting for this show. Prague based company DOT 504 burst into my consciousness last year with Holdin’ Fast, a piece of physical theatre which was breathtaking; this year’s offering 100 Wounded Tears surpasses it.

There’s a real unforced and organic quality to DOT 504’s work; they give themselves time and space to develop their ideas. What might sound like a euphemism for “slow” is actually a platform on which they build an intense dramatic landscape. The opening image is that of a woman slowly spooning dirt onto a pile onstage; this becomes a metronome of pace that is kept then broken, not unlike the relationships that form and then break. As this seemingly random act becomes normal, it connects the following sequences to create a beautifully crazy world.

And the world they create is striking, full of images that burn their way into your mind. Three woman, wearing Marie Antoinette type skirts, beat chalky dust out of their hair, gather air, then sink into their heavy skirts as if to die a thousand deaths. There are too many raw and moving images to list; what really works is that the outer world is populated with characters with vivid inner worlds.

The choreography is thrilling. Choreographed by RootlessRoot’s Linda Kapetanea and Jozef Frucek, 100 Wounded Tears is a piece of violence and beauty. The group moves en masse like an amoeba, spinning like tops with billowing skirts - then becomes more aggressive as they trip and pull and push through each other, until they lie prostrate on the ground. I only wished there was more.

The dancers themselves are fearless. They don’t just dance, they attack dance; they put the physical in physical theatre. This brave and fearless quality marks DOT 504 apart as they challenge themselves and audience to both daring images and acts of physical daring. They don’t shy away from discomfort - often these images are painful and distressing to watch and the performers are left intensely vulnerable.

100 Wounded Tears contains DOT 504’s trademark humour and sexually charged energy. The addition of actor Csongor Kassai brings a mad dramatic gravity to the already powerful images. As the lights came down on the final stunning image, it was a small but appreciative audience that were on their feet to applaud; hopefully that audience will grow into an international following.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2009.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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