Posted on February 25, 2009
Shortly after an evening out with The Kosh I spent an evening in with Alfred Hitchcock. The evening out at The Storeroom was advertised as “A Magical Cabaret”, and the evening in with BBC 4 announced a documentary feature titled “Paul Merton Looks at Alfred Hitchcock”. Yet what emerged from this seemingly unrelated juxtaposition was a vision – shared both by the great cinematic choreographer and by the two choreographers of the UK’s longest lasting multi-media dance theatre company – of just what is needed to keep an audience on the edge of their seats.
The answer is suspense. But this suspense must be veined with humour, and the production must also celebrate the technical magic of the chosen medium. The Storeroom, The Kosh’s latest touring production, directed and choreographed by Michael Merwitzer and Sian Williams, delivers on all of these.
A schoolgirl grows dangerously into a showgirl, starts an affair with the playboy husband of an heiress, is around when the heiress is bumped off, goes innocently to jail for her murder (the real murderer is the playboy husband), is pursued by the playboy when released from prison, meets up with him again, bumps him off, and finishes by shoving his body into a trunk in the storeroom. The story is melodrama, and retold as flashbacks in a storeroom of memorabilia. But the choreography and effects are magical, and brought to life as unexpected miniatures which are tightly framed within doorways and opened-up sections of trunks – slow motion languor from the uplift of a ladder for the romance, constricted moves behind the bars of a doll’s house for the prison, a lengthy struggle between a pair of high heeled shoes and a pair of boots for the death of the playboy. All this, and ventriloquism too (comedic advice to the showgirl from a brother figure) are part of the show.
But the production has one other most remarkable feature. All the parts in this 60-minute show are played by actress, dancer, acrobat, ventriloquist, and singer extraordinaire Sian Williams, and that reminds me of something else Alfred Hitchcock once said; if you want to hold the audience’s attention, “make the heroine suffer”. The heroine of The Storeroom most certainly suffers, but Sian Williams’ portrayal of this suffering (and of the other characters) is also certainly a triumph.