When Words Dictate had potential. Really, it did. The concept of the space between different translations as well as words being the vehicle for our communication between one another was, I assume, the overriding message; however, it didn’t follow through.
For something that called itself a dance piece, it had very little dancing in it. The whole point of a dance piece is that the energy is high and there is something to capture your interest at every turn, but even the music felt like something out of a spa retreat.
The drawing on the floor was tinged with cliche when you realise they had so much space to work with. The space of the performance was not used to its full potential; there were so many opportunities for it to go places and become effective, but they did not utilise the space well and it showed. The fact that I was in the third row also meant I couldn’t really see anything that was going on with the floorwork. It would have worked much better in the round.
The actors were good enough but there was an entire thread about misunderstanding Kafka. Whilst I acknowledged the artistic direction they were trying to go in, the whole idea went on for too long, and it didn’t make sense. I think the biggest problem I had with it was that there wasn’t any sort of overarching theme; it was only moments strung loosely together in an attempt to make it flow.
It took a year and a half to construct this piece and I think they could have utilised the time better. Of course I understand that the whole point of the show was an attempt at a stripped-down, bare bones piece, but due to the fact that the collaboration between the performers wasn’t substantial enough it fell flat.
Saying this, the aesthetics were effective. Visually the chalk coming off the chalkboard was very pretty, as was the end with all the chalk on their clothes. I could see what they were trying to achieve but they just failed to make it land with the audience.
Words and dance sometimes work together. This time, unfortunately, it didn’t.
When Words Dictate played at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. For more information, see the When Words Dictate website.