“Damaged Goods is a double bill of breathtaking contemporary dance made up of two very different pieces. They will hypnotize, captivate, and surprise you from beginning to end, sweeping the stage with impressive physicality and energetic allegory.”
Should you see it?
PREFACE: I learned of the 10-minute incident shortly before going into Damaged Goods. (For those who do not know, one critic abandoned Damaged Goods after 10 minutes, and proceeded to scathingly tear the show down entirely based on those ten minutes.) I, regrettably, did not enjoy this show. I did not walk out. Because of that incident, I was very tempted to tone down my below review because I didn’t want my (entirely subjective) negative opinions to appear to support this critic’s actions. However I’ve prided my own reviewing and that of On Stage on providing honest opinions of the productions we witness and calling out what doesn’t work. Which is just to say that while I truly did not enjoy Damaged Goods, I also do not support prematurely abandoning a show for which the job is to assess it in its entirety.
Damaged Goods is billed as the only dance show at Ottawa Fringe 2015. I don’t know if this is fair. I don’t know if I would call this dance. A piece of movement-based theatre, definitely, but surely dance requires a musical component?
To qualify, I’m not anti-dance, I have seen and loved many dance or movement/dance shows at Ottawa Fringe (A MacSummer Night’s Dream, Iredea, Passages). I have seen many dance shows or shows with movement components that I’ve liked. Damaged Goods simply didn’t grab my interest in any way. There needs to be something to act as an in point and to make you want to keep watching. But here there was no narrative, no in point, nothing to follow or care about. Just a lot of movement and tumbling that felt repetitive and got boring quick.
The show starts before the doors close and lights go down with two of the performers mimicking the beats of an abusive relationship. In silence. This continues and delves into repetition that eventually becomes meaningless for far, far too long. Then, following a 3-minute blackout, another movement piece begins. This one in near blackness and also nearly silent, aside from a repeating percussive smash. There was movement. There was repetition. There was something almost kind of cool going on with a light. But it all went on too long and I’m afraid I was long checked out and waiting for it to end.
I fully acknowledge that there is no doubt in my mind that the members of You Me And Everything In Between are very talented physically. I’ve seen a lot of dancers at work and play (I do dance videography professionally). But that base talent alone does not make Damaged Goods worth seeing – unless you’re really in love with movement theatre – when there are so many better options at Ottawa Fringe.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think? Did you enjoy Damaged Goods and I was just out to lunch? What did you get out of your viewing? Join the discussion in the comments below.
NOTE: Comments about the show itself, or about these opinions of it, are welcome. Comments and discussion about the 10 minute incident will be deleted.