The Barefaced Night

Wednesday 23rd February 2012

IS IT possible, I kept wondering: a dozen different dance styles; narration, dialogue, poetry; peripatetic musicians, choral pieces, an opera singer; poy, apple-juggling and something new to me called capoeira: all this stirred into the dark cauldron of some ancient Scandinavian folk tale.

Nah; not possible. It’s admirable to be ambitious, but what if it becomes overly so?

I’m nervous of course: this is my daughter’s show. You’re bound to want every moment to be magical, memorable, the most exciting you’ve ever seen.

But theatre isn’t like that: perceptions are spun, loom-woven, not anvil-struck; tension takes time to work its spell, to tighten its grip: we’re talking aphrodisia, not viagra.

She’s playful at court, the girl whose tale we are witnessing. Life is a dance, fealty to her father a chore. Older sisters and long-worn customs will not restrain this child of quicker blood. She teases both them and us with the tiniest twinkling of her toes. We’re smitten.

Thus the tapestry uncurls: in the forest and adventures with a man cursed to be a bear; in the elopement and love-making; in desperate temptation and despairing loss; in the pursuit across ocean and desert; in the chilling silence of choice.

Those are not youthful limbs, but tangled branches, swollen waves, crags, shadows, tormenting daemons. I am soft-wired to wail with ’cello strings, but never expected I would weep to the howl of a didgeridoo. And how can one dancer age so many years with such grace?

Dare-faced this night is, when we older trees bow to the audacity of saplings, when a younger daughter completes the journey from father’s knee to accomplished artist.

Sophocles and Shakespeare have taught us how this song must end. Anouilh too, with his insistence that ‘tragedy is clean, restful, kingly’. Before the new dawn breaks, we must understand the sun brings warmth as well as light.

The final scene both rends and heals the heart, all eyes beholding the tenderest embrace.

Everything is possible.




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