Review- Soledad- CCDC


By: Chloe Chia


The latest CCDC grand production, Soledad, is a long-awaited stage adaption inspired by the Nobel literature prize winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. Collaborated between two prominent artists, local choreographer Helen Lai and British-Hong Kong artist Peter Suart, the dance theatre production was greeted with a full-house on its inaugural night. 


Instead of playing out the whole story in full swing, the production presents only eleven excerpts. I especially like the quick introduction of seven generations of the Buendia family by almost the same group of dancers at the very beginning. Shuffling through the accordion tune, the dancers arrange their standing and sitting into several family portraits, using body movements to show their affectionate relationship with one another. Without narrating a single word, it undoubtedly requires some work of interpretation from the audience to figure out the characters but the presentation is indeed an efficient one. 


Soledad is a stage adaptation that has high expectations of its audience to have already done their homework. Its frequent use of symbolism and minimal use of words do not seek to explicitly explain the plot. The lack of clear plot progression gives way to the presentation of a general mood and thematic ideas. 


Feeding on two dominant themes of time and solitude, the production taps into several human behaviours to mirror the history of human civilization—pursuit of love, indulgence of desire, violence of power and the decay of life. While the dancers' performance quality is beyond doubt, it is Peter Suart’s poetry text and lyrics that is key to illuminating the themes and understanding the messages of the theatre. Suart himself also plays the main character, Melquiades, in narrating some of the scenes.


On the technical side, I have to say the near ending scene of raining is excellently concerted with flair and eloquence. Close-fitting tiny molecules form a long strand of smoke-like effect falling from the stage ceiling to the pile of sand on stage. The water effect is so finely executed that it even looks like a sand timer or hourglass, hinting on the quick flying of time. 


The characters in this dance theatre are never clearly defined. None of the dancers bear distinctive costumes to set themselves apart from one another. As each dancer simultaneously plays several characters, their identities are only subtly distinguishable with each situational scene. Instead of introducing the characters of the novel; most of the time, the characters are blended into homogeneity. This performing approach itself is a telling metaphor of the original novel where the repetition of names and traits make up the circular phenomenon of time and history. As history repeats itself, grasping the recurring themes of humanity is more important than understanding which character is doing what.    


This is a theatre that requires a fair amount of first-hand reading of the novel or at least some knowledge of the plot. Otherwise, most of the dance rendition could leave the audience walking out of the theatre feeling perplexed. 


Soledad is playing through December 12th. For more information, click here.

Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 3.3


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