Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin
Choreographer John Scott doesn't do formality. He prefers puzzling ambiguity over hand-holding narrative. His dances are also never cloaked in theatricality, something he traces to backstage visits as a boy with his father, the lighting designer Leslie Scott. Afterwards, watching in the auditorium, the young Scott didn't see theatrical magic, but lights, smoke machines, pulleys and ropes in action.
Leslie died in 2013 and in Lear, John Scott has eschewed abstraction and embraced the formality and drama of Shakespeare's text to frame a heartfelt exploration of aging and shifting dependencies between parent and child. It's a constraint that he is not only happy to follow, perhaps as a nod to Leslie's career at the Abbey Theatre, but also one that he manages with aplomb. Scott's background as a singer also seeps into the structure, particularly in balancing word and movement: the text, like a recitative in opera, nudges the drama forward, while the dance serves as an aria, lingering and fore-fronting emotions.