Northern Stage at St Stephens
(Originally published here)
Anthony Lo-Guidice’s semi-autobiographical “Roma” maps the making of an individual through experience and revelation, stylishly leaping through the hoops of birth, adolescent discomfort, and the pains of adulthood in a slick and hypnotic dance piece.
The four-person ensemble, including Lo-Guidice himself, effectively recreates the formative experiences of growing up in Sicily and a mother’s alienation in a foreign country. Beginning with a solitary woman in a beautifully evocative orange light, the heat of Sicily gives way to an icy reception by residents of the newly adopted home. The interplay between static and mobile images creates an atmosphere of scrutiny and polarisation. The woman in orange – the apparent newcomer – simultaneously appears seductive and stand-offish and the careful repetition of a shrugging gesture that reappears throughout the piece is both attractive and repulsive to those in bluish costume that circle and lift her through their very different culture.
In a description of the “us and them” motif, the central male is faced with a choice between the two female dancers, his final decision reached only after a visually stunning battle with himself that integrates beautiful floor work and genuinely affecting choreography taking us into the heart of the distracted man. Polysemous images continue to take on layers of meaning through repetition. Portrayals of decisions made, the chiming influence of religious culture, the nature of memory, and the devastating effects of betrayal lend this piece the confusion and mismatchedness of true experience. From the discomfort of choice articulated by the scrumpling of a shirt to the resounding shudders, leaps and lifts of sexual experience, this piece has all outlets of emotion covered.
The musical score seems to mix the English and Italian cornerstones of classical masterpieces; a marriage of cultures finally made, although not without struggle. The programme explains that the work explores “what it means to search and find love in a culture not your own”: a promise that is certainly kept (despite a few moments of slightly unsynchronised ensemble work) in an otherwise precisely executed show of well thought-out physical emotion.