- Flora Gosling
Review: Too Close to the Sun (Platform Glasgow)
Barrowland Ballet dance around the topic of climate change
It’s not as easy to talk about climate change with children. It used to be easier to focus on little things like recycling cereal boxes and turning the tap off when you brush your teeth, but teaching the idea of “doing your bit” feels out of touch these days. Most of us adults don’t know what to do to help this world, so what on earth is there to tell the kids? For Barrowland Ballet, it seems the only escape is through imagination. In Too Close to the Sun a little girl dreams of flying above a troubled planet, away from the crushing responsibility of fixing it. As the name suggests, the Greek myth of Icarus is used to broach the topic of the climate crisis with 7 to 13-year-olds.
Photo Credit: Brian Hartley
Too Close to the Sun is not interested in telling the story of wax wings and hubris so much as summarising it and using it as a metaphor. They even go on to complicate it by talking about how the wings would actually harden in the cold atmosphere. But using a myth that most of that age group won’t be familiar with can only make the climate crisis more confusing, not less. In practice the storytelling is at once overcomplicated in the script but also rather abstract in the dancing sequence. As a narrative, it is difficult to string them together coherently, and as a show about the climate crisis it doesn’t know what to do with itself.
But put those aside, and what remains is a show that is a little magical. Where some ballets can feel stiff and distant, Natasha Gilmore’s choreography is playful and physically powerful, yet oddly grounded. We get to admire the impressive skills of the performers and still feel connected to them as people and characters. But the real beauty of the performance is in the staging and the imagery. We see delicate wings of thin plastic, strings pulled like laser-beam across the stage to dance over and under, seafoam of milk cartons and shopping bags, plastic packaging snaking its way around our protagonist's limbs tying them in place, light projection on thin plastic veils, and a set of giant illuminated cheese graters treated like mountains offering shelter from the incoming tide. It is packed full of visual wonders; it pulls off so many interesting creative choices and yet keeps its feet firmly planted on the ground. It’s a shame the same cannot be said about its storytelling. Three stars.
Whispers from the Crowd: "I thought it was bad! because they were not cool." "I thought it was cool and creative. I like how they had those spinning things"
Too Close to the Sun will run at Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock on the 23rd of May, Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling on the 26th and 27th of May, and at the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival from the 31st of May to the 3rd of June
Photo Credit: Brian Hartley