Jesus Capel Luna and Angeliki Nikolakaki are the last two people on earth and a very likeable, entertaining couple they make. The set is part playground, part dressing up box and the pair slither in and out of a variety of costumes – from pyjamas to evening wear - exploring their counterweighting relationship. Formidable circus skills allow them to extend the piece, twisting and twirling high above the stage on aerial straps. There’s a sense of playfulness throughout – none more so than when with elaborate headpieces, a suggestion of feathers and avian posturing, they are transformed in to birds of paradise.
On one level, Sara Augieras’s piece has stark, beautiful simplicity. Wearing a short black dress, her only prop is a cleverly designed rectangular box, which acts as a platform to dance on, or flipped on its side and lit, a cabinet to perform in. She has a commanding presence, her movement punctuated by foot stamps and slaps. As the work has two titles, it also tries to incorporate a multiplicity of ideas about the nature of love - in the texts and music across several languages and in the programme notes, referencing yet more sources of inspiration. It ends with Augieras wildly circling the whole space of the stage – liberated from the constraints of the box perhaps, but also slightly lost without its structure. One of Augieras’ texts, ‘ Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux’ (there is no happy love) could be a prelude to the evening’s last piece.
In Anatomy of the Heart Joss Carter lays bare his heart - and body – in unflinching scrutiny of the torment of love. As you can be physically lovesick, Carter’s portentous voiceover says his heart is ready to burst. It apparently does as he is suddenly drenched in blood, writhing on the white plastic-coated, rose-garlanded stage. In continuing anguish he tries to hang himself in the noose, suspended ominously at the centre of the work. When he fails (thankfully, like the blood it looks scarily realistic), he tentatively offers the other end of the rope to the audience. His head bows, the lights go down. I’m not sure if it was Carter’s intention, but there is something in the audience’s reaction, even before their applause, which seems redemptive of his suffering.
One man; one woman: the last on Earth. But Out of Order’s Once Standing, is far from bleak. This couple’s world is just beginning as they explore the possibilities of their fantastical horizons. Playful dressing up and athletic circus rope acts interplay with innovative pair work, ranging from human puppetry to erotic mating rituals where the performers are dressed as delightful bird creatures. A mesmerising piece of physical theatre, where cannibalism is funny, men have babies and you can shoot from a banana. Luna and Nikolakaki dance like no one is watching, but I for one, most definitely am!
A woman emerges from a box and mounts it. She is a sculpture on a plinth, cutting shapes with her body, before slowly melting into sensual motion as the music begins. The box is now a bedroom, from which she talks poignantly to the audience, attempting to please us with her posturing, as if we were her lover she seeks desperately to keep. Sarah Augieras’ narrative-led solo - Paris Texas or A woman of the Box – touches on the troubled life of Rodin’s ex-lover, the sculptor Camille Claudel. Augieras is likeable and her interpretation, tender and confident. However, the disintegration into a drawn-out free-dance finale is confusing and unsatisfying.
A man lies naked and vulnerable on a white plastic square, bordered with red roses. An uber-disturbing satanic voice-over speaks of the suffering and torment of love, as the body pulses and throbs to its narrative. A sudden gush of blood from a vat - hovering menacingly over the scene from the outset – splatters the body, and Joss Carter’s Anatomy of the Heart is in full flow. Animalistic writhing, sliding and slipping into physical and mental decline, this blood fest is not an easy watch. Its glut of gore leaves me desensitised and unable to empathise with the self-annihilation and hopelessness.