Hallucinatoriska svampar och nonsenstal
Thomas Olsson - www.nummer.se (5 april 2013)

When Grace Ellen Barkey and Needcompany create a dream world with new music by The Residents, anything can happen onstage. Thomas Olsson sees a world full of mushrooms at Dansens hus. Mush-Room by choreographer Grace Ellen Barkey and the Belgian dance and performance art group Needcompany is a performance staggeringly full of associations. Not because it has a specifically devised story about mushrooms, but because it is so ingenious, both in terms of the narrative and the choreographic. Back at Dansens Hus with an at times hallucinatory at times absurd work is Grace Ellen Barkey, with another gem from her long-term collaboration with the artist Lot Lemm. Four years ago they were here with The Porcelain Project (read Nummer’s review), bringing a large scale porcelain installation, created by Lot Lemm, as a stage and playground. This time, the room is filled with hovering mushrooms and suggestive and pulsating music by The Residents. Initially, the hovering mushrooms are embrangled in paper, later dangling upside down on ropes from the ceiling. It is in this sub- or supernatural world that the seven dancers and actors find themselves. When they decide not to climb out of it and step to the side helped by the ropes and cables that the mushrooms are hanging in, the suspended mushrooms literally dance. In fact, everything in the imaginative world that Grace Ellen Barkey and Lot Lemm create together is in motion or at least in a state of change. In Mush-Room, the dancers spread, change shape and direction just like fungi. The organic and serpentine choreography bunches up from time to time on the floor to be interrupted in the next moment by a duet or a larger constellation at a higher tempo. Sometimes, they move acrobatically, almost yoga-like, sometimes ambiguously, and sometimes as a character from the commedia dell’arte tradition. Furthermore, the comical or absurd is underpinned by interspersed and mostly nonsensical vocalisms, as well as by some meta theatre elements, where ongoing activities are interrupted abruptly by comments on what has just been seen. What’s more, the dancers are dressed in some sort of spore-like headgear, or perhaps more accurately, face masks, which in tandem with their enhanced facial expression, actually makes them less human and more animal-like. A human being, and thus the only non-fungi organism in the show, Julien Faure is transformed into a mushroom after having overeaten specifically on mushrooms, joining the rebellious and armed fungi in neon clothes at the end of Mush-Room.

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