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Made in Heaven: North Wall Arts Centre
Made in Heaven is easy to understand at the start. As we file into the theatre, Eleanor Duval is sleeping on the stage.
She continues for 10 minutes, her restful pose increasingly punctuated by spasms of frenetic twitching. She is dreaming. Eventually she wakes to perform a beautiful solo, followed by a duet featuring Kristen McGuire — a lovely dancer and former rhythmic gymnastics champion — and Chris Tandy.
Straightaway we see Bruce’s tremendous talent for making dance. From here we move to an island prison presided over by a gun-toting, black-clad sheriff in Ray-bans, “The Chief”, played by the actor Rick Bland. “Once you are taken to the island there is no leaving” he says.“There are sharks in the water, paradise is gone.” And indeed it has.
From here a string of extraordinary episodes begins, fragmented and seemingly unconnected, in the manner of dreams.
Duval, it turns out, is the Chief’s long lost daughter. She gives birth to a winged baby, and witnesses the severe treatment of the prisoners.
Suddenly Bland re-appears as “Old He/She”, a pantomime character nun with a squeaky southern accent. She is trying to escape in a boat that won’t start. Later she is attacked and chewed on by a brilliantly manoeuvred model shark, and decapitated on stage. The cast play hockey with the head.
Meanwhile, mermaids have frolicked in billowing blue waves. One of them is caught, and we see her tail being amputated and carried off like a piece of tuna. There is a terrific dance for the gaolers — both the girls in the same tight black clothes as the men, (there are only five dancers in the cast). Duval is now carrying both her winged baby and the severed head, and callously chewing gum the while. Finally, changed into a floaty pink dress, she dances a swaying calypso in the waves. What’s is all about? Don’t ask. It’s a dream, but a fascinating show.