In the Wine (3 stars)

A bacchanalian celebration of wine-making from New Zealand's Java Dance Theatre

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In the Wine

credit: Tom Hoyle

There's a definite bacchanalian spirit in the air at Java Dance Theatre's new production. The New Zealand-based group's last Fringe offering took place on the back of a double decker bus, so it's little surprise that their follow-up is just as strong on concept and exuberant in execution.

The opening sees a nude sprite chased around until she finally concedes to having some clothes applied. There's a fine line when using female nudity in shows, between provoking, celebratory imagery and gratuitous reinforcing of sexualised ideals, and in this case it doesn't feel like it's quite falling down on the right side.

The show evolves into a pageant of the process of wine-making, centred around a wedding ritual between two Grecian lovers. There's plenty of stomping, whooping and cheering – a little too much at times – before nastier forces come into play, and undignified mayhem swoops in.

The real star here is the music – cajon, violin and cello played brilliantly by the cast – and the use of rosemary, cinnamon and star anise to fill the theatre with scent. Choreographer Sacha Copland's links between wine-making and social formation – each a complex mix of beauty and bitterness – come through. But they don't delve far beneath the surface.

Assembly Checkpoint, until 29 Aug (not 15, 22) 1.10pm, £11.50–£12.50.

In the Wine

  • 3 stars

Java Dance Theatre ‘Like wine, it makes you happy, makes you laugh, makes you think. A hit’ (Stuff.co.nz). Inhale the scent of crushed cinnamon and star anise, see lush dance on wine barrels, hear live music and feel the power a glass of wine can hold. Fresh from eight NZ seasons. ‘Wow’ ★★★★★ (TheatreView.org.nz). From…

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