4 Min Read

Innovation Meets Expert Execution: Catch-22

Catch-22 is the latest work from emerging choreographer Amelia Sagrabb, and despite being just her second full length work she has swiftly demonstrated that her talent is one to watch.  

The source of inspiration for Catch-22 comes from Amelia’s own eco-anxiety and the inner turmoil she feels about pursuing the arts over a career with “greater impact” on the climate crisis. It’s a relatable concept and one that we see many other early career artists grappling with in their works, which often aim to educate or raise awareness on the topic of climate change.

This piece, however, offers an introspective approach that reflects the experience of attempting to make meaningful impact upon an insurmountable problem.

There’s a feeling of unease as the show begins as dancers emerge from the mist and light coming from the side stage. We know they’re in the room with us, but we can’t see how many dancers there are or know when they’ll step forward. One by one the dancers move towards a set of three stairs built at varying heights. This is where we first get the sense of being “one step behind”, as the dancers all congregate on the stairs, moving in the same patterns but never reaching one another.

Sitting facing the stairs I was quite smug about my choice of seat before realising that the stairs could be moved around the space. It’s at this point I should’ve learnt not to assume anything and when questioning “are they really going to do that?” the answer is, yes, they are.

Catch-22. Photography by Sophie Minissale.

Moving through chapter like sequences, Amelia makes use of the stairs in every possible manner within her choreography. They’re flipped, turned, climbed on, jumped on, stood on, and become fort-like, rapidly changing the environment they exist in. Further to this we see the dancers quite literally climb the walls of The Blue Room, making full use of the space’s architecture.  

Peter McAvan’s slick sound design defines these sections of the performance, transitioning from initially meditative sounds, to a buzzing urban soundscape through to techno beats that had people moving in their seats. Matthew Erren’s considered lighting design also worked to create distinctions within the piece. Matthew lit much of the show using light from the sides of the stage, only bringing us overhead lighting near the end to build on the crescendo. There’s a sense that both these artists not only understood Amelia’s vision and direction for Catch-22 but were heavily invested in the work too.

The synergy between all elements of production extends through to the dancers, Francesca Fenton, Montserrat Heras, Giorgia Schijf and Luci Young. These individually captivating dancers, work through this demanding piece like a machine. While the choreography sees them move together, lifting one another and physically interacting, their faces remain intentionally stoic, and their eyes are glazed over as they look straight through the audience and through one another. This provides an interesting silo effect, despite existing as a collective.

Catch-22. Photography by Sophie Minissale.

Amelia has married her concept with striking choreography that continues to push boundaries and audience expectations. The dance emphasises an ever changing political and environmental climate, which makes significant change made by individuals hard to attain or achieve. I think this is an honest reflection of how many people feel.  

Despite my heavy interpretation of Catch-22, I left the theatre feeling energised and excited by the work I just saw. This seamless production is littered with plenty of jaw-dropping and eye-widening moments that will make you want to press the replay button and tell your friends.

Catch-22 is on now at The Blue Room Theatre until the 29th of April.