Unless you practice medicine, watch informative programmes on the processes and networks of the human anatomy or have an impressive knowledge of the Oxford Dictionary, I doubt that many of us sit back and think of the natural and astonishing processes that the human body goes through, let alone labelling each individual system. The production, Plexus, draws from its meaning: a network of nerves and vessels in the body and an intricate network or web like formation, stopping the audience in their tracks with this forward thinking piece of genius.
Presented with a billowing canvas of black material encompassing the entireity of the Sadler’s Wells stage Kaori Ito‘s presence immediately pinpoints the anticipating audience’s attention to the rhythm of her heart beating. Aurélien Bory‘s body percussive sequence smashes the silence initially established into pieces as a portable microphone draws on the sudden stops and starts, swipes and jolts crafted by Ito.
Ito melts into another realm as she slowly disappears into the black canvas curtain whilst still facing the audience. The canvas collapses to reveal Pierre Dequivre‘s 5,000 strong network of elastic string, the new home of Ito’s enigmatic presence. Ito jostles abruptly in this seemingly limiting labyrinth, which although appears magnificent, seems somewhat claustrophobic; an entangled obstacle course with no options of escaping, however surpasses expectation by Ito’s depiction of various states. Ito’s tiny frame creates waves of thunderous sound, stamping on the seemingly immovable set piece to depict moments of heaviness and gravitas. Ito gracefully weaves round the string as if trees in a forest, siren-esque in her presence as she occassionally reappears outside of the cage, to only disappear into the setting once again.
Ito’s performance can only be described as magical, as she disappears, reappears, ascends the strings and descends. Ito transforms from being an intricate part of the bigger picture, to controlling her environment as she controls the gigantic cage turned swing infrastructure. Bory’s choreography pushes the boundaries of what dance and physical theatre can be, continually shifting the focus from stage design to the performer’s intentions. From the moment the production begins to its powerful conclusion, Plexus never fails to astound, constantly pushing the audience to think outside of the box. 4/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Plexus is currently showing at Sadler’s Wells until Friday 23rd January. For more information on the production, visit here…