Bury St Edmunds: Dazzling aerial dance drama’s world premiere

Metta Theatre's production of Well

Metta Theatre's production of Well - Credit: Archant

Well, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

DANCE, aerobatics and atmospheric Bengali music, punctuated by moving words, captured an intense portrayal of a tragic story.

The world premiere of Well, unveiled at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds, on Friday and Saturday night, was a triumph.

Although just over an hour long the unique production, which featured spectacular acrobatics using a rope, a dangling hoop and flowing red cloth, was portrayed by Leyla Rees, Lindsey Butcher and choreographer Shreya Kumar, with skill, dexterity and poise.

It was a combination of modern aerial circus work, swirling sari silks, classical Indian dance and dramatic story telling.


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The intense and sad story of the poisoning of thousands of people in Banglesdesh was aided by an informative narrative which guided the audience through the peformance.

The story of Well is told through the lives of a mother and daughter and their voices are heard through the voice-over which integrated into a rich, complex soundscape shaped by the evocative Bengali music. It provided an atmospheric backdrop to Shreya’s fusion of classical Indian dance with contemporary aerial circus.

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The story starts in 1973 and finds Anjali’s life hanging by a thread. Aid agencies intervene, her life is saved but 40 years on the life of her daughter Asha is threatened by events set in motion all those years ago.

Well is based on actual events in Bangladesh, where the drilling of tube wells by well-meaning international agencies in the 1970s accidentally created arsenic poisoning on an epic scale, which continues to this day.

The presentation of the play is designed to emphasise the human story but to lighten the atmosphere by dazzling the audience with the abstract nature of the aerial performance, which was achieved with fantastic success, especially the poignant climax and demise of Asha.

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