A magnetic blend of acrobatics and dance, Raven is a show with a resonating message at its core that is only let down by a blight of creative indecision.
As the three performers take to the stage (and the air), you are hypnotised by the whirlwind of movement they unleash. There is a mixture of staggering rope work and contortion as the trio lament a struggle through their movement. The story centres around three mothers who have to juggle their performing careers whilst being parents. Through dance and voiceover, Raven confronts the expectations that can be placed on successful women when parenthood comes calling. It is a message that is never lost throughout their incredible onstage feats. These displays of strength testify to the inner power of the female characters, as they keep battling in the face of newfound dilemmas.
The music soars alongside the dancing, chopping and changing from fast-paced instrumentals to hard rock. The performers sync to the music and do not feel restricted at all by the tempo. A dizzying display of hazy colour acompanies almost every routine, absorbing you into the lives of the women through every drama and reflection. On a technical level, Raven is marvellous.
The show starts and ends with the power that should be sustained throughout. The only issue is that Raven also attempts to be funny. Smoothly transitioning from graceful dance to comedy is difficult when you only have an hour, and the comedy feels jarring. Animal impersonations in particular seem somewhat out of place. Moments of light humour too often interrupt spellbinding routines and soaring music. What does not help is that some of the pre-recorded voice overs sound strangely robotic, although this does not take away from their impact.
This is a powerful show that offers a captivating portrayal of motherhood and the difficulties of raising children. Societal pressures, self-doubt and lacking confidence all feature in what can be a magnificent display of power and beauty. Chamäleon Productions – with their first appearance at the Fringe – can be praised for boldly trying to incorporate comedy into the show. However, it does not quite work as anticipated, and falling more decisively on the side of drama could see Raven really take off.