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I Would that Your Dark Eyes Were Upon Me

Wednesday, 18 August, 2010

Ruthless, engaging, stylish

The Lion and Unicorn, 16 – 18 August, 9.30 (20 min)

Elina Akhmetova in an amazing piece of theatre

This physical theatre piece is set amongst some chairs in the simplest space possible. And yet in terms of impact, it is eerily – and wonderfully – effective. This could be the show of Camden Fringe this year. It was a privilege to witness such a committed performance.

The fact that it begins in total silence says something about intent. The fact that the first two characters to enter glide across the stage as though melded together says more. But is this intimidation or attraction? It seems to be both, and also part of a power struggle between the two, which has as one marker point in its development a place where the man is seized by the woman and carried away, upside down.

Gradually, a third character joins the man and the woman. The development of their elliptical relationship, to the point where she literally joins the two, to become a new kind of being, is the subject of the second part of this short but intense experience.

The silence is broken sometimes by brief snatches of song, by a heartbeat soundtrack and eventually and quite shockingly by voices.

But the effect of the piece of a whole is dramatic in every sense. The dancers flow into positions which never seem to be forced, and they demonstrate amazing capabilities – as when the man makes the woman fly – and if that implies that this is some kind of circus, it’s not – it’s compelling physical theatre.

The other members of the company are Kyoungee An and Hadleigh Harrison.

Apparently, this was a very late addition to the Camden Fringe programme (it just made it to the Camden Fringe website) and the organisers were worried about fitting a show as short as this one into the schedule. As it is, tickets were just a fiver (as opposed to the standard £7.50 price), but this was one of those shows where you just couldn’t equate the impact to the time spent delivering it. The whole thing was probably frighteningly energetic for the performers. Probably, beyond 20 minutes their ability to keep up the pace would have gone into sharp decline.

But the overall impression is one of style and impact; this could be the most intense twenty minutes you’ll ever spend in a theatre.

Performers: Elina Akhmetova, Kyounghee An, Hadleigh Harrison. Choreography – Elina Akhmetova; Lighting – Mikkel Svak

reviewed 17 August

(c) Michael Spring

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