SYMPHONY OF SILENCE reviews


Weekendavisen, 16.-23. April 2010, Majbritt Hjelmsbo:

"In Pernille Gardes Symphony of Silence the stage is set just after World War I. A soldier is returning home from the war and checks into a hotel. In another room a classical composer is working and on the other side a cabaretdancer is entertaining. And let it be said right away, it's three highly experienced dancers and performers, Wendy Warden here puts on stage. As the traumatized soldier, Bo Madvig is inescapable good. Everything is readable in his emaciated face and tortured body. Anxiety, paranoia, nightmares, shell shock.

Bo Madvig commands every muscle fiber down to the palpebral slightest quivering contractions, when he in a split second switches from one mental state to another, and with trembling hands transforms from hallucinating wreck to a targeted killing machine with shoals of grenades that constantly may be thrown and shaking fingers which is stuck in the ears when the bombs are falling. With pathological precision Bo Madvig uncovers in the same bed scene both all the horrors of war and the psychological damage that is indelible in the soldier's memories, which can be
triggered by a sudden sound, a glowing flash of light or every time he closes his eyes and tries to fall asleep.

Next door a well-dressed Alexander Bourdat lets his soft composerhands fall with hesitation into the piano keys and directs assigned an imaginary orchestra with earthworm-like rubber arms. But when he meets with Tiziana Frachiollas sexy nightclub dancer who can swing leg as high and wiggle so scintillating with her hips that you become completely dizzy, transforms the music artist into a brutal assailant and later again a sweaty nightclub manager in control of the entire show.

... elsewhere Pernille Garde moves impressively between dream and reality, past and present. Regularly amusing for example is the two men's childish hide and seek around the piano, which surprisingly gets a sinister edge when the boys fight suddenly escalates to adult men fight between life and death. And sexy Tixiana Frachiolla swings convincingly labile between seducing doll, vulnerable victim and icecold mistress. Thank God, no mercy there.

... In other words, there is anything but silent in Pernille Gardes Symphony of Silence. The bullets whistles and the bombs are still exploding inside the head of the soldier. And this perverted show continues obviously. A brave and straighttforward statement from a choreographer who has something important to say."


Frederiksberg local newspaper 22. april 2010, Nanna Boye:

"Pernille Garde has created a good dance performance which is underpinned by an impressive set design ... she has chosen a historical frame, but the soldier's nightmare and trauma, might as well take place in the year 2010 ... his heartbeat is emphasized in the sounds, his nightmare becomes a dance in under and on the bed ... there are many exciting scenes and they can really dance!"


Dance International, Canada. Written by Anne-Marie Elmby:

“Through her unique talent Pernille Garde was able to transform a current, serious subject matter into a captivating dance performance that crept under the skin. Her inspiration for The Symphony of Silence came from watching a film with WWI shell shock victims and supplementary information from a former member of a Kosovo task force. A young soldier back from the theater of war tried to find peace and quiet in a simple hotel room, but started up at the minutest sound reacting as if the folding bed was an attacking enemy. Bo Madvig’s traumatized human being embodied a whole range of anxieties and hallucinations that made one visualize the nightmare experiences the soldier was haunted by. Venturing out of his room he eyed a cabaret danseuse, portrayed by Tiziana Fracchiolla, who performed her sensual dance titillating the soldier boy with an undertone of longing for affection. Advances between two damaged souls in a shattered world soon turned abusive. The third participant, Alexandre Bourdat, tried desperately to extort compositions from his piano that would match a new and better world. A bar set at the back attracted all three characters to drown dreams and depression at the bottom of a bottle, and attempted bonding ended in going berserk and violence. One scene turned into an absurd circus of inhuman behavior and brought to mind the tormenting guards and their victim in Christopher Bruce's Swansong. The sound collage by Greatmusic, the composer duo Tin Soheili and Niklas Schack, included music that bridged pastand present, while authentic video sequences almost became superfluous, since the artistic testimony was so powerfully performed.”


***** Herning Folkeblad, 13th October 2011, Dorte Kolding:

"The consequence of any war. Even the soldiers who survives the war, loses their lives. Guest performance at the Team Theatre. Dance performance "Symphony of Silence, a soldier returns home” by Pernille Garde. ...Imaginary scenarios. Bo Madvig's is from the beginning a man who can not be in his body. Alert, trembling, terrified, hypersensitive to light, sounds and imaginary scenarios. If he falls asleep the nightmares assaults him. A folding camp bed is a genius prop as both prison and trench. The soldier meets in the reality or in his fantasy, a composer who tries to create new phrases and melodies on the piano, and he whirles into a cabaretdancers cliché, seductive behavior. He tries to get into life by visiting a bar. He plays hide and seek with a man who dies, when the game escalates. Whether he tries to get in contact with a man or woman, it fails. It ends up that they exhibit him in a kind of cruel circusperformance, or is it a reality show, maybe a torture prison, bleeding and bound at the sight and hands. The ultimate victim, robbed of all hope. The choreographer and the dancers succeed to reach out and get the audience to feel what is happening inside a person with a bombed psyche. The identity is powdered and can not be rebuilt. Relationships can not be established. That leaves only a distillate of desperation.

Talented dancers. The three dancers are all very talented. The choreography uses gestures and movements just as much as actual dancing. It gives a kaleidoscopic expression with constantly shifts between any emotion of the palette, that origins from subtle layers of the traumatized soldier. But also the woman and the man who represents the so-called normality, unfolds a sea of emotional nuances. High level. We are at a high artistic level, where the dance plays supremely along with lighting effects, video, sounds and music. The whole gestalts the relentless inferno in the tortured soul within. His pain creeps under the skin of the audience, and because the show thus acts as a strong testimony about the war as an incurable cancer nodule on civilization it did also put the thoughts on alert. So abolish those wars!"


Theatre 1, No 149, by Johan Brøndsted:

"The story was all too present on the horrors of war which have destroyed a human. After the explosions comes silence and that silence, exists music of horror. A soldier comes back from the first of the great wars of the last century. Bo Madvig was the soldier, pale, furrowed, stiffened and inimitable. He barricaded himself in his shabby hotel room - a sloping repo with a cot (feltseng) and the apparently empty carpetbag placed on the chair which was broken. The movements were initially measured and assigned: he lifted the blanket to see if there was hiding something under the bed. Locked in his own fear and with the aggression outside(Upfront) he is lured out from a composer and a burlesque dancer placed on each little scene.

First with notes from Alexandre Bourdats upright piano, which with its manifestation of empathy and compassion still gets overwhelmed by the soldier's aggression and must fight back in classic boxer attitude. The virtuoso Tiziana Fracchiolla is suppose to excite us and the soldier, but her movements are controlled, measured and another peep out from the very beginning: worrying.

There was humor and a little hope when Madvig soldier had sought out the composer and the two began a poignant pas de deux around the piano. The composer was trying to (de)catch the soldier and the soldier did hide - around and above and below it went. Hectic, we were pulled through the hell to be a man who has experienced war and have to keep on going - through solos and duets crisscrossing between the three dancers.

This exploration of war's aftermath for the ex soldier and his fellow man, ended with a finale in which the dancer and composer now was magician and assistant. The music was hysterical excitable and they pulled the exhausted ekssoldier around the ring, exposed him, humiliated him and placed at last a red clown nose on him. He covered his face with his hands, pulled them down, and Madvig bared face expressed a strange peace - with a kind smile at the end.

I would like to believe that the exsoldier realizes that he has been abused, humiliated and destroyed. Realize that there was no higher meaning with the inner wilderness, he has become. Realizing that war never, never is the solution and that the insight anyway, in an odd almost backward way, gives a redemption, even for the soldier. But I'm not sure. Not, not at all sure."