The advances in digital technology have connected us in ways we could never have imagined. At the same time, our obsession with being ‘connected’ is also a cause of disconnect and overload.
How we find a comfortable balance between the two is the basic theme of Joli Vyann’s ‘Imbalance’. But the show itself is much more than a morality tale for the selfie-generation.
The performers Jan Patzke and Olivia Quayle are a couple both off-stage as well as on, and the show takes inspiration from their relationship which began over a long-distance.
There’s lots of recognisable Facebook and Skype connection when they are apart, and there’s also a distancing when technology competes for their attention and often wins in the mundane routine of day-to-day life.
On paper, it all sounds obvious, but the strength, skill and chemistry of the performers matched with Jonathan Lunn’s fluid choreography draws us into a recognisable world that is as addictive as our smart phones.
As well as the disruption to our closest relationships, the show also explores the darker side of the web, with scenes of cyber-bullying and cruel hashtags. Just like our information-overload, digital world outside of the theatre, there is a lot to take in. And perhaps that can lead us to underestimate the talent in front of us.
At one point Olivia balances on Jan’s head. It is a physical feat I have only seen attempted once before by the Guangdong Acrobatic Dance Troupe from China in their production of ‘Swan Lake’. In a space as intimate as the Lowry Studio, the effect of this same move is paralysing. A handful of people broke into spontaneous applause, only to stop short because no-one else joined them. The tension is too much for the audience who don’t want to risk anything to disrupt this delicate balance.
The overwhelming emotion from this fusion of dance, circus and acrobatics, is one of wonder. For all our technological advances, it is only when we stop being amazed by the human beings in front of us that we know that we truly are in a state of imbalance.
Imbalance was at The Lowry on 2 June 2017.