Haunted ****

Dance Base – National Centre for Dance, 11 – 22 August 2010

Reviewed for the British Theatre Guide

Whether the demons in question are Biblical or psychological, an exorcism is a dance for two. In Haunted, Stephen Clapp and Laura Schandelmeier enact a cycle of possession and purging with a mesmerising succession of lifts and balances that evoke both the power struggles and the mutual dependency that the act of exorcism involves.

The duo reign unchallenged over an expanse of darkened dancefloor girdled with a protective ring of salt. They’re accompanied by Chloe and Leah Smith and Kofi Dennis – rhythmically and at times hypnotically – using myriad cross-cultural styles, stringed, percussion and vocal instrumentation.

The dance is initially contextualised by Washington Post cuttings read in voiceover, which specify the Catholic exorcism (specifically the real-life incident that inspired the film The Exorcist) as the main point of reference. The production’s one major miscalculation is to comically over-produce this, its only prerecorded sound effect, pitch-shifting and recutting the samples like an amateur house DJ.

Beyond that point Haunted is refreshingly open to interpretation; and at only 40 minutes long, it’s over long before its artistically recurring motifs can become simply repetitive.

Crew includes Catherine Eliot (lighting), Michael Kramer (recorded text) and Ayo Ngozi (costumes)

Cast includes Stephen Clapp, Kofi Dennis, Laura Schandelmeier, Chloe Smith and Leah Smith


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