One thing is sure of the double billing of Eden and Pictures We Make at the Pegasus – the two pieces have a lot to say about human relationships, sexuality, foolishness, pride, and a whole host of other emotions. But by the end of the evening they became a bit of an odd couple, exploring similar questions with the same moody tension throughout.
For all its earnestness in exploring the contours of an internal reality, it is a shame that Eden’s bursts of brilliance are compromised between longer, overwrought sections. This is truest of the lighting design, which begins by casting razor-thin beams through the smoke-filled stage to otherworldly effect. Walls like moving silk tapestries hang in the air, while the dancers weave their way in and out of them. It is a captivating vision, but it also sets a bar that the piece rarely attempts to leap over again. The same is true of the score, with moments of deep resonance punctuated by long periods of either dryness or excess.
The piece’s female dancers stand out, showing a remarkable control over not just their motions, but also their mentality. While dancing in synchronisation, they draw clear and precise lines between reflection and imitation. But throughout, all the dancers are limited by choreography often too obsessed with gender dichotomy, symmetry, and sexuality. With an entire world to explore, Eden too often chooses only to explore only a few angles of human sexuality. When it is good, it is excellent—but when it is not, it seems forgettable.
Pictures We Make as a title is pretty self-explanatory: it looks at the formation of relationships through snapshots, and the dancers explore how we understand these relationships in private as opposed to how we understand them in public. Essentially, they are looking at the difference between your personal photo album and your Facebook profile with the BF/GF. Company Chameleon glosses it as ‘plunging from I to we’.
‘Plunging’ says it all: the interpretation is pessimistic, the contorted writhings and sclerotic embraces telling us that, in these pas de deux, ‘I will never become we’. Performers grimace and gurn in mockery of our skin-deep satisfaction with our beaux and belles, and the use of seats in a twisted game of musical chairs casts love as a process of selfish gain. Threading a tense air of vulnerability throughout, the original score by Miguel Marin flits between plaintive and savage. Aggressive fellatio was hinted at one point: love sucks.
I’m not too hung up about the company’s take on love, which was full to the brim of manipulation, subordination and cathartic violence; but I was bowled over by the sheer complexity of human interaction that the performers communicated.
Eden/Pictures We Make showed at the Pegasus Theatre on Thursday 28th November.
PHOTO / Company Chameleon