Rosalind, the heroine of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, is given new life in James Cousins’ latest dance piece which asks whether equality is possible in our current times, or if our heroine must still pull on the cloak of masculinity to be heard.
The stage design is simple but effective, consisting of a cube shaped frame, which lights up at various points. The four performers dance in, out and around the lines, which works well as a visual interpretation for living outside the box – and, at times, being forced into it. At times, Sabrina Mahfouz’s poems play over the choreography; at others, Seymour Milton’s score accompanies the dancers. All four dancers – two female, two male – switch genders, characters and motivations, pulling on both male and female costumes as they assume different identities. The women pick up and support the men as much as the men do the women, and the equality and chemistry between the four is fantastic.
Although much of the choreography is undoubtedly excellent, the narrative is somewhat strained and often verges into incoherency. The links between the Shakespeare play that inspired the piece, Mahfouz’s poetry and the dance itself doesn’t always gel, and it’s easy to feel a little left behind. The neon night time scenes, which see all four Rosalinds pull on masculine coats and leave inhibition behind, are electric; Milton’s score comes into it’s own in these moments, as does the choreography, and the powerful ferocity is relentless. However, the long routines set to nothing but a breathy soundscape are too drawn out and can’t compete with their energetic counterparts.
Words: Chiara Margiotta
Picture: David Foulkes
Rosalind, Summerhall, Aug 25-26, 4.30pm