Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bijou's Secret and Legs Elbows Lips

By Ben Walter
HyPe; Sidespace Gallery
6.30pm Tuesday 22nd May
The Sidespace Gallery proves a surprisingly cosy venue for two theatrical performances developed through the HyPe initiative, a program facilitated by the Salamanca Arts Centre for the development of theatre with experimental and cross-disciplinary tendencies.
Bijou's Secret, written and performed by Fiona Stewart, is an arresting one-hander exploring lost intimacies between three generations of women - an immigrant French woman, Bijou, her alcoholic, academic daughter and artistic granddaughter. Stewart is a compelling performer, confidently inhabiting the three roles and switching between them with ease; a slight adjustment of the hair serving as sufficient cue.

Stewart's script is good in the detail and suited to each voice, and her use of song, for the most part, resonantly echoes her purposes and themes. Structurally, the final third of her production rushes somewhat for the sake of narrative; just as much, perhaps, could have been drawn from a steadier continuation of her character studies. Nevertheless, Bijou's Secret is a potent study of strong women and how their decisions, heritage and passions have driven them to states of isolation.
Legs Elbows Lips, created and performed by Sean Monro and Rose Kokkoris, experiments with the relationship between movement and the spoken word to examine the territory of a relationship; hopefulness and first meetings, hurt and infidelity, conflict and disappointment. These explorations can be fascinating; the show opening with the two cast-members angling their bodies slowly around a pair of chairs, suggesting the moods underlying recorded dialogue.
While the script has comic moments and the use of body parts as signifiers is appealing - elbows are particularly striking, this neglected piece of anatomy used to represent all that is personal and whole in one's identity – it feels a little underdone; the language, when stretching beyond the everyday, fails to drive its metaphorical nails.
That said, Legs Elbows Lips' playfulness with conventions - of how we should read a performer, their body, their clothing and their speech – makes for genuinely thought-provoking theatre.

1 comment:

  1. What some other people have thought....

    Helen Swain
    legs elbow lips is the most exciting piece of theatre i've seen in a long time. the words sang. it was very funny. the staging was utterly clean and the collaboration and acting perfect. i could not ask for more. yours in stimulated satisfaction

    Suzanne Cooper
    Both these performances were outstanding! If you want to see some amazing local theatre that makes you FEEL, you need to see these. Wow.


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