Sunderland's new Fire Station puts on devilishly good dance show at Speakeasy event

The devil is in the detail when it comes to dance – and Southpaw Dance Company are fast proving masters in this medium of storytelling.

Thursday, 14th April 2022, 2:35 pm

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The North East-based troupe have put on some unusual performances in the city over the years, including a show at St Mary’s Car Park, a Metro takeover in Park Lane and a piece inspired by the isolation of the pandemic at the historic Athenaeum Building.

Now, they’ve brought one of their thought-provoking pieces to the city’s newest venue, with a performance of Speakeasy at The Fire Station Auditorium.

With the stage brought forward to give the dancers even more space to perform, the venue’s state-of-the-art sound and lighting showed off this spectacle perfectly.

Speakeasy at The Fire Station

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The audience were transported to the underground bar scene of the Prohibition-era 1920s for this re-imagining of the classic tale of Faust and his infamous pact with the devil, which has been brought to the stage with the vision of artistic director Robby Graham.

Our protagonist Faust is an everyday man who enters the bar innocently, not realising it’s owned by the devil and populated by his demons, including the charismatic barman, Mephistopheles.

Knocking back some Moonshine (666 proof), he’s taken on a hour-long dance with the devil that’s a captivating watch and a strong story of temptation and how ‘morality is the luxury of the rich.’ It’s a show that’s as hypnotic as the pact itself.

As well as impressing with physical skills, with break-dancing blending seamlessly into swing and other traditional dance, there’s some really nifty technology on show too, with clever projections making it appear, in one scene, as though Faust is dancing with himself. Music-wise, there was big-band classics as well as some more modern masterpieces, such as I Put A Spell On You.

The Fire Station is proving to be a versatile asset to the city

While the one-on-one dance scenes bristle with intensity, the group scenes are a more joyful affair and it was a great touch to see Sunderland College students join the professional dancers on stage for some extra razzle dazzle. It really ramped up the energy in a show that already had one hell of a pace.

Dance is just one of the many artistic mediums to shine in this new venue, which is proving to be a really versatile asset to the city.

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Southpaw Dance Company closed their tour of Speakeasy at the Fire Station
Students from Sunderland College joined in for group numbers