Life in a Day: new dance work at Mull Theatre

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Note to self: next time, book tickets for both nights of future Tidal Dance productions. Once was not enough.

Life in a Day was stunning – taking place on one day in the 1950s, it takes the form of a series of inter-related, moving postcards; families, relationships, work, hopes and memories.

Alan Melvin’s simple yet atmospheric set, with lighting and sound by Martin Low, took us to a timeless coastal community: the fisher hoosie, the fairm and the fancy beach hut, as evoked by King Creosote’s 2014 From Scotland With Love soundtrack. It took us to a place where we could ‘dream without sleeping’.

Kenny Anderson’s poignant music was matched by the lyrical intensity of the dance. Serena Micalizzi-Coyle and Sarah Palmer were the couple at the centre: their hopes and memories ‘something to believe in’.

Traditional Scottish Country Dance music and steps were threaded through the scenes as stories were told about individuals, their close relationships and their communities.

The fisher women, Ester Morrison, Vicki Faye Stevens and Izzy Willis, worked, played, danced; were busy but bored; relaxed and happy; exuberant and funny; ‘striving to be counted’ as they resisted social injustice.

Lily Beth Howitt and Evie Mae Kellett, as the youngest members of the community, were delightful whether playing playground games or racing excitedly between the adults at a big night out.

Splendid acting underscored the dance, over and over again. In an unforgettable duet, Laura Mandelberg and Evie Mae Kellett portrayed an utterly believable loving relationship: effortlessly simple but full of generous warmth. Tears were shed – by the audience.

First and foremost, a community dance company such as Tidal Dance is inclusive: for four of the dancers, this was their first public dance performance. Yet Life in a Day was highly professional in its scope and ambitions, echoing the late, great Martha Graham who said: ‘Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion’.

Congratulations to Ester Morrison and Andi Stevens, whose choreography inspired and enabled the company to give their best. A year in the making, this new dance work was funny, moving, tender and true.