Monday, November 29, 2010

REVIEW: Insane in the Brain by Bounce Street Dance Company

The HK Academy of Performing Arts Lyrics Theatre, Sunday November 28

There is a thin line between genius and insanity. Insane in the Brain plays heavily on that thin line, the line between high and low art, beautiful and ugly, polished and raw; and groundbreaking and bromidic. It is this ability to make the audience rethink that made it almost insanely attractive.

The dance by the Bounce Street Dance Company is based on Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I have to declare that I have neither seen the movie nor read the book, thus I was watching this dance version as a virgin.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest took place in a psychiatric hospital dominated by the calculating and cold nurse Mildred Ratched. Meanwhile, Randall Patrick McMurphy, a new patient transferred from prison camp, challenged her routine and power.

The whole concept of this dance version is pegged on the concept of street dance battle, one group versus the other. This was not only highlighted in the dance but also visually segregated in the costume (patients vs. nurse), skin color (white vs. black) and yet all these contradictions were juxtaposed against a gray neutral stage. There was also a good mixture of other types of dances. While it may be kind of cheesy, I can’t help liking the “Flashdance” segment (when the patients were having hallucination) complete with the signature head-back-seating-on-chair pose and water splashing down. But just like any good hallucination (not that I had a lot), the "Flashdance" became "Flushdance" with the signature chair replaced by toilet seat and the water splashing down triggered by the toilet flush.

The story was clearly told (at least based on my understanding and verification with my friends who have seen the movie or read the book) though I question the balance given to the different scenes as I find the beginning of the story kind of slow.

While there were some stage effects that were too common, they were used sparsely and to good results. All throughout though, the sounds were consistently too loud… apparently not only to my older-classical ears but also to my younger-hip hop friend’s ears.

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