The Enormous Room | ★★★★ Bachtrack

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“Grief does not change you”, writes John Green, “it reveals you.” Dave and his daughter Sam lose sight of each other and the world around them after the sudden death of their wife and mother Jackie. Getting up close and personal, Stopgap Dance Company’s new work The Enormous Room is an absorbing encounter with grief and loss.

Dave (David Toole) closets himself away in his home, ravaged by memories. The set (designed by Anna Jones) is like a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle creating platforms and ledges at varying heights. Dancers emerge from sideboards and cabinets like whispered secrets. Using his arms, Toole leapfrogs over furniture, folding himself in cupboards and squeezing under tables. He springs like a cat, perfectly balanced with pinpoint accuracy. Toole is a magnetic presence on stage, drawing us into his orbit of gnawing solitude.

Choreographer Lucy Bennett holds her creative nerve. She sets a steady pace and maintains a quiet intensity. A clock ticks, marking the passing of empty seconds. Dougie Evans’ score of everyday sounds and white noise probes a relentless loneliness that consumes every waking moment. Bennett resists the temptation of an emotional roller-coaster for something much closer to the truth – a slow invasion of grief that indelibly shapes the souls of the living.

Photo from The Enormous Room - Christian reaches towards Hannah as she leans out from an open cupboard.