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Review: Launch Day at Hexham Queens Hall

A Passionate Industrial Past

Launch Day
Hexham Queens Hall Arts Centre

Next show:
Washington Arts Centre - Thursday 28th April 2016

An amalgam of dance and art with a strong North East England theme, Launch Day is an interesting collaboration between Kelly-Abbot Dance Theatre and local artist Alexander Millar. Utilising five dancers, the ‘Gadgie’ characters are brought to life in this Dance City/Hexham Queen’s Hall co-commission.

Alexander Millar has produced a range of striking paintings that feature the aspects of life for the ship building gadgies. What did the working day look like? The walk to work, the repetitive tasks, the mass exodus at the end of the working day. Of course, there is more to life than work and the social life also comes to the fore including going to the pub and watching a match.   Some of these artworks were on display outside of the auditorium which helped set up the stall for what was to follow.

Choreographer Kristin Kelly-Abbott’s challenge is to bring these various scenarios come to life.  Kristin uses an ensemble of 5 dancers who strut onto the stage, flat cap in place, with a sense of purpose. At many points in the show the relevant Millar painting is projected at the back of the stage as the scene is created then set in motion. The action is more about the style of the working man rather than stunning dance moves. The result is sympathetic to the source material.  The costumes from Greener Lavelle certainly look the part.

Entwined around the action is a combination of music from composer Breifne Holohan and songs by Mark Knopfler. The use of these tunes fits in well with the overall feel of the piece.

Dancers Becky Nelson, Natalie Hewitt, Christopher Vann, Catherine Muckle and Jannick Moth delivered a confident performance. They combine to bring an absorbing commentary to the North East’s industrial past.  Whilst looking like Andy Capp, they work hard and play hard.

Kristin Kelly-Abbott has created a fascinating piece which reflects the pride in the region. By bringing static artwork to life she has generated an intriguing commentary on working class life.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Read the original North East Theatre Guide preview:

Launch Day can be seen at the following venue:

28/04/2016 - Washington Arts Centre 7.30pm Ticket Web Link.
An exhibition of paintings in the theatre foyer by Alexander Miller will accompany this show.  A Pay What You Decide show.

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