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 The Theatreguide.London Review


Breathing Irregular
Gate Theatre January-February 2010

A frequently moving dance-drama, Breathing Irregular has been assembled by Jenny Worton, director Carrie Cracknell and choreographer Jane Mason from the transcripts of actual 999 emergency calls.

The cast of four take turns playing panicky callers and calming operators as they re-enact actual conversations. One operator instructs a man in the Heimlich Manoeuvre to save his choking wife, another gives a frightened family an instant course in CPR when their father collapses, while others just provide a calm and reassuring voice until help arrives - to a woman in a burning building, a little boy whose mum won't wake up, a witness to a terrible accident and, to reassure us that not all 999 calls are tragedies, a woman giving birth on her own.

In between, and sometimes overlapping with the spoken sections, the four dance to music by Tom Mills, with movements that appropriately suggest support and dependency, the repeated coming up to the edge of a precipice but not falling over, and in one particularly effective sequence the almost motionless and breathless waiting for the sound of sirens.

It has to be said that much of the power of the episodes comes from the real-life words and situations, though the actor-dancers - Temitope Ajose-Cutting, Eva Magyar and particularly Bryony Hannah and Brendan Hughes - create and sustain their instant characterisations touchingly.

At barely 40 minutes, Breathing Irregular really shouldn't be offered as an evening's entertainment on its own, though it would make an impressive part of a fuller program of dance.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Breathing Irregular - Gate 2010