The Life and Times offers a unique theatrical experience. Performed live in the theatre while being simultaneously live-streamed, it makes the audience an active player, resulting in a truly captivating, surprising, and immersive performance. The show not only utilises the hybrid format to allow for increased accessibility but masterfully hones the experience of watching the performance as a livestream through creatively incorporating camerawork and staging.
The Life and Times is intriguing, strange and visually stunning. Choreographer Joan Clevillé expertly weaves together the dancers to create a fascinating portrayal of the connection between the body and time. From the slow-motion walking of the actors to the fluid, repetitive movements of their limbs as they move across the stage, the dancers embody the concept of time and create mind-bending shapes and motions that are at once hypnotically beautiful and thematically complex.
From the outset, the camera weaves and dips across the stage, creating an instant sense of the audience as an active participant. Utilising visual tricks including mirrors and forced perspective, the camera itself becomes part of the performance. With the actors looking into the camera and guiding it, the viewer is taken on an immersive journey – constantly moving and helping to keep the action on stage fresh and interesting through shifting perspectives and varying angles.
This staging is extremely effective and highlights the talent of the dancers as they get close to the audience, their facial expressions guiding the mood and action of the piece. Instead of a simple static view of the stage that is expected in a livestream, the viewer is treated to a fully-realised and expertly choreographed viewing experience. The staging itself is sparse and effectively used, with many hidden surprises waiting to be revealed. As the set constantly shifts and changes, there is a real sense of excitement and discovery.
The performances are equally as impressive as the filming style. All of the dancers are brilliant; whether they are moving individually or as a group, their full-bodied fluidity and flexibility – paired with the emotional depth portrayed – is moving and fascinating. Jessie Roberts-Smith and Kieran Brown are particularly mesmerising; embodying childlike, playful and larger-than-life characters, they tie the action on stage together and deliver startlingly complex and charismatic performances. Their baroque costumes add a sense of bawdy, luxurious decadence. Together, they bring heart, character, and levity to a complex piece of theatre.
There is no set narrative or plot but this only serves to highlight the strength of the themes and performances. From the eerie, sinister appearance of the dancers moving in a disjointed and hypnotic wave, to the intricate mirroring and weaving together of limbs as the entire cast move as one, the visuals and emotions they evoke are powerful and keep the action constantly enthralling. The well thought-out pacing is gripping and there is a real sense of movement created throughout the performance.
From the first action as the show begins to the last frenetic moments, The Life and Times is a mesmerising, creative, and uniquely presented piece of dance theatre. It manages to transcend regular live-streaming experience audiences have come to accept to offer a truly immersive and fascinating show with superb performances from all the dancers involved.