This densely-packed dance piece offers a captivating portrayal of life in the armed forces, at a time when war is all to close to home.
Developed by Rosie Kay after being embedded on manoeuvres and spending time in military rehabilitation, the piece documents five soldiers’ progress from preparation and drill, through pre-deployment exhilaration, the difficulty mix of boredom and intensity of operations, and the brutal impact of injury.
From the start it becomes apparent why armies and dance companies both use the word corps – while very different, each plays on the unique skills and character of each member while subsuming them into a regimented, regulated unit.
This is an demanding piece for the three men and two women on stage, all in vision throughout the hour-long show, with nowhere to hide on a stark set that is bordered by metal strips and decorated only with pack bags and a few tyres.
There are some very strong narrative elements but some parts lack clarity or, in demonstrating the rigidness of army life, extend a little too long. Projections are used well to convey the unit going into the field, though the use of scrolling code at other times can distract from the dance.
The cast are, fittingly, exceptionally disciplined. The rigidness of drill gives way to more fluid movement in their downtime, or frenetic energy when struggling to cope with their situation, with Kay’s strength as a choreography matching with the performers’ abilities.
This is a thoughtful and engaging piece, that brings home some of the realities of war through a surprisingly neutral lens.
- 5 Soldiers continues at Norwich Playhouse until Saturday, April 22, 2023.