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Invisible Empire

Three stars
An open door and an East European chorale that tugs five ways but
remains emotively harmonious is the scene-setter for the Glasgow-based
but Polish-inspired Company of Wolves ensemble's fifty minute
meditation on conformity, resistance and community. Involving music
from four countries, a frantic physicality and a fractured text drawn
from the writings of incarcerated Red Army Faction co-founder, Ulrike
Meinhof, Ewan Downie's production begins with the quintet acting in
near robotic unison before rising up one by one to rebel against, well,
anything that's going, really.

This may be just a passing phase of restless youth, however, even as
the sound of metal chairs scraped slowly across the floor becomes a
little atonal symphony. Later, the same chairs are beaten with uniform
ferocity. Only when a man possessed has his demons sucked out of him
with a prolonged kiss do things change into something both more
individual and more accepting of others.

It's a committed, meticulously choreographed and orchestrated affair
that is working towards a ritualistic aesthetic that nevertheless
remains rooted in the real world. While the voices and physical tics
remain disparate and unique, there's an instinctive recognition that
ultimately only collective, co-dependent action can change things, and
that love as much as anger is vital to achieve such a goal.

For the moment, at least, it's the vocal musical arrangements by Downie
with performer Anna Porubcansky that gives Invisible Empire its
strength. The arrangements sound by turns mournful and defiant, and
when the final collective howl comes as the world slowly dims around
the performers gathered in an ever tightening circle, it's a cry from
the dark that lingers.

The Herald, April 29th 2014


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