Monday, 23 November 2009

Insane in the Brain - Lowry Theatre

Insane in the Brain
Adaptors: Bounce Streetdance Company
Based on the book: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Writers: Ken Kensey and Dale Wasserman
Artistic Coach: Peter Storm
Reviewer: Dave Cunningham

For a show that aspires to be cutting-edge this uses one of the oldest clichés in the book as its premise .The idea of using the anarchy inherent in modern music to challenge the established order was used in most of those awful rock and roll films that came out in the 1960s.Still, although it has rough moments, ‘Insane in the Brain’ is an excellent show.

This is a street dance version of ’One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. Randall P. McMurphy (Joao Assuncao) is incarcerated in an asylum where he clashes with Nurse Ratched (Letitia Simpson) who feels that teaching the inmates the discipline of ballet will be therapeutic. McMurphy instead introduces them to the freedom of street dancing with ultimately tragic results.

One of the problems with the show is a poorly spoken opening scene, which makes clear that English is the second language of some of the company and that inflection is an unknown concept. The comic elements are uneven .A very funny filmed interlude is off -set by a puzzling sequence featuring songs from Flashdance and Fame. The purpose is unclear and it interferes with the mood of the show by introducing unnecessarily broad comedy elements such as the male dancers in Borat – style leotards.

The dance moves reflect the characteristics of the individuals. The Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from which Dale Harding (Alvaro Aguilera) suffers is shown in a repetitive series of movements. The repressed and dominating Letitia Simpson has robotic movements and her solo (ironically to Missy Elliot’s ‘ Joy’) is performed in a tightly enclosed space .The exhibitionist Miss Martin (Bianca Fernstrom) has a bouncy, cheerful series of moves. McMurphy sometimes seems motivated by anger as much as the desire for freedom and his duet with Nurse Ratched (to ‘Libertango’) shows that he might have more in common with that character than those he seeks to inspire. The final scene of Chief Bromden (Daniel Koivunen) taking on the mantle of McMurphy’s street dancing is deeply moving.

The real strengthen of the show is, however, the ensemble dance scenes. A disturbed night’s sleep leads to a striking dance on, and around, the beds. ’Express Yourself ‘ is the perfect backing music for the characters to experiment to find their preferred dance moves. Best of all is a scene of electro-shock therapy to System of a Down’s P.L.U.C.K. which is performed by the cast as a semi-bungee jump with them ricocheting up and down a wall.

Despite the odd rough moment ‘ Insane in the Brain’ is an inventive way of telling a story which definitely appeals to a young audience.

‘ Insane in the Brain ‘ was reviewd on 21st November 2009, and its UK tour has now finished.
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