A Production Review by Anna Moberg from the Norwegian TAG
A melancholic portrayal of what it feels like when the brain decides to shut down on you
Nagelhus Schia Production’s performance Orbo Novo tells the story of a person who wakes up on a Tuesday morning – having a stroke. We follow the process of what the brain goes through when shutting down, as well as a subjective description of what it feels like to completely lose control over the external world.
Orbo Novo is mainly a dance performance, with an astonishing group of 14 dancers on stage. Although most of the story and emotion is portrayed through dance, during the first fifteen minutes the actors tell the story of what the stroke felt like. This element of text in the beginning was refreshing and gave me a good emotional background for the next, non-verbal part of the performance. Each dancer performed a bit of text, often several of them talked at once, playing around with the text. This was impressive and made me, as an audience member, believe that the group was one unit, just as much as each one of them being their own person. Another element that supported this impression were the costumes. Every dancer had different types of clothing on, making all fourteen dancers stand out in an equal way. Often when I watch dance performances, especially with bigger ensembles, I feel it is easy to lose track of the dancer’s individuality. Orbo Novo managed to avoid this brilliantly.
For the remainder of the performance, the actors mostly danced, sometimes solo and sometimes with the whole group together. Accompanied by melancholic and, at times, heart wrenching music composed by Szymon Brzóska,the performers in Orbo Novo told the story of losing control, through their body movements. The scenography on stage was majestic, with tall metal cages, big enough for the dancers to climb through the holes. The cages worked as a type of “fold-out closet”, having the flexibility to fold in and out into many different shapes besides the original cage format. This leant itself to some really amazing, and visually pleasing, moments on the stage. Together the scenography, lighting and beautiful music created a small universe, where we as an audience were taken deep into the world of a brain giving up on you.
All in all, this was an impressive, and very touching performance. I don’t usually get goosebumps, but I can assure you that Orbo Novo left me with goosebumps from the tip of my toes all the way up to my forehead. Go see them!