Skinny Guardian

7 December 2020, 20:00 (UTC), 364 words. Lyndsey Winship.

Adventures in Film review – cracking trio from Matthew Bourne's company

Among the many dance films being made while theatres are dark, these three shorts from Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures stand out for being – like Bourne’s own work – story-driven. The Adventures in Film project has given three female dancers from the company the chance to make their own creations (with production company TEA films) and the impressive results are very different from anything you’d see New Adventures dancing on stage.

All shot on location, each seven-minute film has a different style and approach. Tasha Chu’s Nostos (meaning homecoming) is the most immediately satisfying: a tight, clear narrative with a nice twist. A couple who’ve been separated by war are now struggling to bridge the gap that’s opened up between them. We see home video footage of happier times while the pair elude each other’s embrace, bodies meeting resistance within themselves, or thrown backwards, floored by events. Dancer Seren Williams is very engaging, with lots going on behind her eyes.

Engaging ... Seren Williams.
Engaging ... Seren Williams. Photograph: New Adventures/Kaasam Aziz

Anjali Mehra’s Little Grasses Crack Through Stone is a more complex idea, based on a Sylvia Plath radio play, Three Women, from 1962. It follows three different stories of pregnancy and motherhood – although Mehra’s reading is a little broader and open to interpretation, suggesting maybe they’re all aspects of the same person. She can’t match the depth and detail of Plath’s text but it has some poignant moments and great performances, especially from Charlotte Broom as a quivering, unsettled, but ultimately accepting new mother. The sense of a woman’s competing choices and sometimes brutal biology rings as true now as 60 years ago.

The final film, Monique Jonas’s Checkmate, may be less interesting conceptually – the story of a man confronting his shadow self – but her movement has a lot going for it. Rhys Dennis clutches at his face as if the hands were someone else’s; his dancing is heavy but loose-bodied, joints and limbs lurching then snapping into place. Jonas, like Chu, is only starting out as a choreographer and it just goes to show that with opportunity, and a bit of budget, there are a lot of talented choreographic voices out there with something to say.