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Fallen Angels Dance Theatre - Chapter One: Battle for the Soul @ The Lowry

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"Fallen Angels Dance Theatre is a professional issue based company which is process led, working directly with the recovery community to ensure a real and honest account in performance."


I saw the first iteration of Chapter One last year and found the evening to be one of the most inspirational that I have ever seen in a theatre. Since then, Artistic Director Paul Bayes Kitcher has extensively reworked the piece and I saw the new version at the Lowry this evening.


"Chapter One: Battle for the Soul is a montae of stories where addicts' paths collide with the brutal realities of their lives. Revelations, despair, desperation, fear and denial - standing at the crossroads which way will they choose? And do they have a choice?"


The evening started with a curtain raiser by the Fallen Angels Performance Group which is made up of adults recovering from substance misuse and young people from the Wirral Youth Theatre. A short film shows some of the members of the group talking about what it means to them. They then appear on stage and the movement starts. This is powerful stuff. The movements are simple and look tribal. The group joins and highlights one girl. I could see a certain similarity of feeling to Rite of Spring. The rest of the tribe disappear and the chosen girl performs a monologue - she is speaking as the addiction and as the girl who is trying to get away from the addiction. It is very moving. The tribe then reappear. They all collapse except for one young man - could he be hope? As the lights fade, he holds his hand out towards the light. Bearing in mind that the performance group consists of people who have never performed before in public this is a remarkable and moving piece. The most uplifting thing to me was the curtain call when all their faces lit up at the applause.


After the interval we see the Dance Theatre - four dancers with a narrator and two supporting artists. The narrator is an extremely sinister, clown-like person who, along with Monkey, pulls the threads together. Paul creates gorgeous, fluid choreography but this is a hard-edged, gritty tale. Is the setting a drinking den? The dancers depict their addictions and the effect on their lives. One girl is a high-flying office worker who "enjoys" a drink at the end of the day and cannot see she has a problem. One young man owes money and is forced to give his girlfriend to the moneylender to use. One couple see hope but at the end of their beautiful duet they part - one towards recovery and one towards further degredation.


At the end of the piece the narrator and Monkey start pointing at members of the audience and you realise that any one of us could fall into addiction.


This evening does not make for comfortable viewing but it is utterly enthralling and compelling and seeing the Performance Group is truly inspirational.


If you get an opportunity to see Fallen Angels Dance Theatre please grab the chance with both hands. More performances are scheduled for the North West and it is hoped that a London date will happen at the end of June (I suggest you keep 30th June free in your diary!).

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