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Naoko Murakoshi, Graham McKelvie, Andrea Nann and Jennifer Dahl.
Naoko Murakoshi, Graham McKelvie, Andrea Nann and Jennifer Dahl.

Theatre Review: The Four Horsemen Project at 1000 Islands Playhouse

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The Four Horsemen Project opens in the Firehall at 1000 Islands Playhouse on July 9 and runs through July 26. Here's Connie's review of this same production that she saw earlier in Ottawa.

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Reported by

Connie Meng
Theatre Critic

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THE FOUR HORSEMEN PROJECT, conceived and directed by Kate Alton and Ross Manson, is an animation, sound poetry, dance, theatre piece. What's that, you say? Well, whatever you call it, it's certainly entertaining. The piece is adapted from the work of a quartet of 1970s Canadian sound poets, whose poetry uses the noises of language but without the meaning, and is somewhat reminiscent of STOMP. However, THE FOUR HORSEMEN PROJECT uses vocal sound rather than percussion, and the ideas and emotions flow from sounds into movement and animation.

Cass Reimer has designed the set, which consists simply of a white floor and back-drop, both of which act as screens for archival film clips of the four poets and the animation. Her costumes are colorful, inventive, and incorporate humor. As a matter of fact, there's a lot of humor throughout the piece. Bruce Alcock's animation and Itai Erdal's lighting mesh to create a fluid and varied background for the performers.

All four performers are wonderful dancer/actors who also use their voices to good effect. They communicate with the audience through sound and movement on an intuitive and playful level.

Jennifer Dahl has the most powerful arm movement I've ever seen and her solo piece is terrific. Andrea Nann displays an air of elegance that can suddenly devolve into humor. Speaking of humor, Naoko Murakoshi is a high energy embodiment of mischief, while Graham McKelvie moves seamlessly from sly humor to more serious moments.

I should mention the effectiveness of John Millard's music and the contribution of Katherine Duncanson, whose vocal coaching has helped these four dancers to be as strong vocally as they are physically.

Director Ross Manson and Director/Choreographer Kate Alton have put together a performance piece that flows easily from solo pieces to cohesive ensemble work. The pace never flags and the movement is consistently inventive. The use of technology beautifully supports the work, never overwhelming the high-powered performers.

THE FOUR HORSEMEN PROJECT has a kinetic energy that threatens to burst through the walls of the theatre. This was a difficult review to write, as all I really wanted to say was that the piece is unique, lots of fun, and go see it. THE FOUR HORSEMEN PROJECT provides seventy minutes of sheer exhilaration.

On a scale of one to five THE FOUR HORSEMEN PROJECT produced by Volcano in association with Crooked Figure Dances and Global Mechanic at GCTC gets five pizzas. For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.

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