Hotter Than a Pan
The Yard Theatre
Reviewed – 22nd January 2019
“a promising work that tackles some big topics with commitment and beauty”
The air in The Yard Theatre is thick with incense. This smell, however, is quickly replaced by the odour of smoke, as performer Malik Nashad Sharpe enters the space with a burning torch. “You are not my friend, you don’t even talk to me,” Sharpe intones over and over, back to the audience, ‘Everything’ printed in white down the spine of the dress.
‘Hotter Than A Pan’ is a poignant and affecting story about identity, the boxes we are supposed to inhabit and the anxiety of falling outside of these. It combines dance, words and light, and beautifully investigates strength and weakness.
The choreography is brilliant: vivid and human and living. The beginning is overly slow, but as soon as the dance begins, the piece becomes a success. It is variant in style, continually surprising its audience, and the lighting design works really well with it, rectangles of blue, alternating white boxes, blaring orange light that illuminates the audience.
Some really interesting devices are used that need to be more deeply worked into the narrative so that they do not read as gimmicky. Tape emblazoned with ‘Fragile’ being pulled across the floor is an example of a moment that teeters on this edge. At this stage in its development, the show is still struggling to exist as a cohesive whole, and needs to find a way to bring together the many exciting elements that it houses.
‘Hotter than a Pan’ ends with a monologue that underlines the issues that have been being explored more conceptually through the choreography that has dominated the work until now. It is poignant, and viscerally delivered vocally. However a direct delivery to the audience at this moment would have created a more impactful engagement. In fact throughout, Sharpe’s face is predominantly obscured by a blue wig. Whilst the wig works well aesthetically, it feels like a problem to me, particularly for a piece that is so centred around emotion and identity.
This is a promising work that tackles some big topics with commitment and beauty, but requires more development for it to be fully evolved into something that feels whole.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Hotter Than a Pan
The Yard Theatre until 26th January as part of Now 19 Festival
Previously reviewed at this venue: