tue 07/07/2020

The Centaur and the Animal, Sadler's Wells | reviews, news & interviews

The Centaur and the Animal, Sadler's Wells

The Centaur and the Animal, Sadler's Wells

Unforgettable theatrical imagery with horse and man and the theme of death

Bartabas, equestrian master, and butoh artist Ko Murobushi: A strange, mystical dialogue of horse and manAll images © Nabil Boutros/SWT

To achieve a black stage that emits or reflects no light is a hell of an achievement. To place a huge black horse with black rider onto that stage, without the slightest noise, and to contrive a black shadow on the black, is to create an image found in the fathomless wells of subconscious imagery, and the skill of that vision and realisation of it is something I doubt I'm going to forget.

A tiny old man crawls blindly on the white front while behind in the black vacuum Bartabas rides his horses like shadows of death

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Having seen the piece yesterday, I'd agree that it contains strong and even unseen images. I had more troubles than the author above to blend out the voice which evoqued very disturbing images. It was actually hard sitting through the whole piece. - For me it ended up - and this in spite of the new images provoked in conjunction with the horses, sand, light - being one of the most lengthy performance experiences. It was hard to connect to the piece, to follow the story and I also think by the marketing which had emphasised the part of the horses, the audience was a bit mislead. Many people got up and left during the performance. It is not a piece I would recommend.

When I booked the tickets I thought this show would either be brilliant or terrible. While some of the images were hauntingly beautiful and the skill of the protagonists (human and equine) not in doubt, I felt it was incredibly enigmatic and opaque and so hard to engage with emotionally. As Ismene Brown says, the spoken text was a distraction. I found the parts of the performance without verbiage by far the most successful; one almost needed to enter a trance-like state, to be mesmerised by the slowly unmoving, repeated sequences, taken to a world without words. I left feeling I'd seen something very distinctive and beautiful, but curiously unmoved.

This is the most hilarious show I have ever seen. The sound effects gave a great effect and set a very amusing atmosphere. They were ace, though some of it was pretentious I would definately not recommend this for younger children because some of the scenes are rather inapropiate and disturbing. However older people would definately understand this performance although it can become quite repetitive. For example: the horses on stage walk around aimlessly and shat on the stage.... but anyway it is a great show and a real joy to watch.

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