Fringe Fest: Shakespeare gets ‘wyrd’

I never thought that William Shakespeare’s plays would be told well through contemporary dance and collective movement theatre, but in the case of DamnSpot Theatre’s production of The Wyrd Sisters, I was proved wrong.

DamnSpot Theatre is based in Victoria and founded by Alannah Bloch, a UVic Theatre alumni. Her mission in bringing this group of dancers together is to “revise and revision the works of Shakespeare for contemporary audiences,” according to the company’s Facebook page. Founded just this year, the dancers in the troupe reinterpret the words of Shakespeare through a contemporary lens, and ask questions of the work’s relevance in our modern society.

Going into this show, I knew little about its premise, other than the fact that it involved a blending of some of the Bard’s most famous works and contemporary dance. In doing this, the dancers created their own story while still capturing the heart and magic that lies in the centre of Shakespeare’s words.

Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and Macbeth were all represented in this dark show, as all three involve some element of the supernatural. The Wyrd Sisters themselves, played by Victoria Simpson, Colette Habel, and Nicola Whitney-Griffiths,, encapsulate this dark magic by working together to convince the three leading men — Caesar (Jack Hayes), Hamlet (also Jack Hayes), and Macbeth (Levi Schneider) — into committing the acts that eventually lead to their demise.

Because the storyline itself seemed to be more or less a very rough adaptation of the three Shakespeare plays, it was very easy to follow, and to enjoy the dancing just for the sake of the artistry involved in creating this atmosphere. Contemporary dance is something that resonates on audience members on an individual level; what you take away from it will most likely be very different from the next person.

However, while I found the show easy to follow, I feel like the performance might have seemed a bit convoluted and strange for someone unfamiliar with Shakespeare. But at the same time, this could also have added to the experience: the show is interspersed with famous lines from all three of the plays, such as the famous “Double double, toil and trouble” chant of the witches that many do not realize comes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. By having these direct references compose almost the entire dialogue of the show, it really gave you the sense that this was a Shakespeare show, just being told in a more modern way. And this is exactly the aim of DamnSpot Theatre.

The Wyrd Sisters exceeded my expectations, and left me with a thirst to read more of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as a higher appreciation for everything that can be done through the medium of contemporary dance.

The Wyrd Sisters plays at the Metro Studio Theatre (Fringe Venue 3) tonight, and Sept. 5 and 6. Tickets are $9 at the door or $10 at intrepidtheatre.com/shows/the-wyrd-sisters/.

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