Since 2008, the UK Czech Centre has brought a fascinating showcase of Czech live performance to the Edinburgh Fringe. As part of this year’s showcase, the Prague dance company DOT504 present You Are Not the One Who Shall Live Long, a forceful exploration of, among other things, our varied needs and our drive to have these satiated, although not necessarily in positive ways.
It begins a little weakly. The gloomy and smoke-filled stage we open on, has unfortunately become a bit of a cliché in contemporary productions. As is the case here, it isn’t always clear whether such an ambiance has a proper connection to the production’s creative intent. It feels rather slapped on like an afterthought.
It picks up once the dancers are all together. They work best as a team, their movements very physical and even confrontational at times. Hyaejin Lee—an interesting dancer who really stands out—often acts as the other dancers’ tool, at their beck and call. They manipulate her, throwing her body around with apparent ease. This is sometimes almost unpleasant to witness, despite, or perhaps because of, her seeming compliance.
The performance is certainly replete with attention-grabbing ideas, but this is really its problem: the hour feels almost stuffed to bursting. Furthermore, some of these ideas are indulged for far too long a time—they become repetitive and impotent. Finally, it has all been tacked together rather loosely, creating a work whose overall form is rather shapeless and unstructured, giving it little real bite.
What You Are Not the One Who Shall Live Long desperately needs is a great deal of additional, carefully-considered editing. As it stands, it comes over all theatrics and self-indulgence, which is a genuine shame, as it is very clear that there is a great deal more to both the work and the performers than this.
On the other hand, genuinely experimental work is not always going to hit the bullseye: it is not necessarily its primary goal. Thus, if you still have room on your dance card, it would be well worth giving this a try. If you do, try to sit in the front row (which is on the stage) as it will give you the most direct experience.