Sabine Molenaar is a dancer, performer, photographer and choreographer and in 2012 she founded the performance company Sandman. Tonight she returns to Manipulate at the Traverse Theatre to present her new solo show Almost Alive. Sabine has performed at the festival in the past with That’s It and Touch Me and is back to entertain the audience with more physical and visual theatre. If you view the front cover of the Manipulate programme or one of the posters that advertise the festival, you will be presented with a still image from Almost Alive. It is a striking photograph, but it doesn’t even begin to capture the brilliance, inventiveness and mastery of the performance.
Almost Alive presents a lonely character going through a treacherous struggle. Sabine moves and contorts her body in ways that seem impossible. Her limbs create expressive and harrowing shapes and she uses her body to form vivid and dark images that express the deep and dark psychology of this character. During the show Sabine Molenaar constructs a claustrophobic and bleak world where reality and location become obscure and chaotic. The set is as an abstract presentation, where black plastic sheets hang as a backdrop and glisten in the subtle stage lights. This adds to the claustrophobia and disorientation and at times suggests a secluded, damp and dark cave and at others moments conjures a vast mountainous landscape. When these plastic sheets begin to move the imagery is intense, pulsating and effervescent. It is a dazzling impression that accentuates the harrowing plight of the protagonist.
Almost Alive is truly a multimedia performance with video projections and sound design that emphasise the themes and heightening the tension. This gripping unease reaches a peak when water is introduced to the scenery. The character appears to be reborn and struggles to navigate through the situation. Sabine slips and slides around the stage and the struggle becomes an expressive and dramatic skirmish with the suffocating and oppressive scenery. It is a powerful, epic and breathe-taking performance from a vital and dynamic performer.
Manipulate continues at the Traverse Theatre until Saturday 3 February, where more visual and physical theatre will be on offer from national and international performers and artists.