Edinburgh Festival: Power Games (3 stars)

It’s an innovative idea: an interactive piece of dance theatre where the audience vote, in a TV gameshow set-up, for what they’d like to happen next. Meet Deepak, a wealthy banker and someone who, today at least, we would like to see have hot coffee spilt on him and get a huge bill from the tax office. While Deepak isn’t especially dislikeable, he is into gambling on the markets and in the casino – which, in this day and age, is difficult to find attractive.

Polished but somewhat obvious movement pieces, fusing contemporary and South Asian dance, capture the cold, sharp lines of city living and anxiety driven by the constant pressure to succeed. The decisions the audience make often have little effect on wider action. Through a single routine Deepak goes from meeting a woman to their relationship falling apart, all without us holding up our voting cards.

The story is less interesting than the form, and the form – despite a final twist – feels under-explored. In trying to do a lot conceptually, performer, director and choreographer Shane Shambhu’s new company, Altered Skin, doesn’t have time to make us care about the people whose fate we are supposedly deciding, which is a shame.

Written for The Scotsman

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