Celebration, a devised theatre piece, is the debut show by Emergency Chorus. The premise for this show is “part theatre, part dance party, part funeral” and is created and performed by Ben Kulvichit and Clara Potter-Sweet.
The show begins with a high energy, unpolished dance routine that’s a punchy and suitably puzzling way to start the show. The performers are relaxed and radiate sheer joy at performing this for the audience, even when their technical dance skills may be lacking. Once the routine is over, they stand visibly tired and survey the audience before launching into their rules for the show that include not forgetting their lines and always attempting to entertain.
Kulvichit and Potter-Sweet bounce off each other well and their dialogue feels fresh and improvised even when we’re told that it’s all scripted. They blend dance routines like the opening number with moments of storytelling, clothes swapping and entering inside a large homemade tank-like object to talk about imaginary futures. There are costume changes, moments of physical theatre and song. The show moves from one of these moments to the next, with little to connect them.
With Celebration, Emergency Chorus have obviously not attempted to create a traditional theatre piece with plot, character and narrative but the experiments they present tackle this with mixed success. The sheer number of ideas taking place on stage mean it’s hard to find the point in it all. Near the end, the performers come back to an earlier story about a painting of a woman and a dog and it feels as though this might be the moment where the pieces could be drawn together – sadly, though, the music track is turned up a little too loud and the performers voices are inaudible, meaning that whatever point this climactic moment is conveying is sadly lost. Or maybe that is the point? Regardless, it is unclear.
There’s a lot going on in Celebration. The overall point of the performance is a little lost in the multitude of ideas, costume changes, unwieldy set items and enthusiastic dance routines. However, the dynamics between the two performers and their individual likeability and confident delivery make this an enjoyable show, even when it’s not quite clear what is going on.