FringeReview Scotland 2022
Candoco dancer, Brown, enters the stage to provide dance moves on the floor, and after this short piece of movement, he informs us that he has been unwell. It means that we shall see the majority of the performance, which was due to be live, on film. Once he has described the background, Brown and Mutso’s meeting at the Tramway, their subsequent collaboration and so forth, the huge screen onstage takes centre stage. We see Mutso first. Brown emerges from in front of her. We become aware of a scaffolding behind them which they move into and make full use of. Between the two of them a sensuous relationship emerges which leads to Mutso asking Brown if he would like to dance. At that point they both emerged from the wings and from the floor live dance begins. This is mainly a floor performance as Brown uses it to his advantage and movement flows in a fluid manner to belie the differences between them.
Joel Brown admits jokingly to having 11 movable vertebrae as he has a rod which fuses the rest of them, the unmovable ones, together. He once told Eve Mutso that she moved as if she had 100 vertebrae. Between them, therefore they have 111. From this starting point we are asked to view their performance as a form of lightning rod from which to launch into a piece designed to showcase and entertain. Tonight that performance is limited by not being wholly live though, despite the limitations – a film and not live dance – one of the greatest strengths is the admiration and mutual respect in evidence in the relationship between our two performers. It shines across the footlights, and from the screen. The narrative is a physical joy as we get their tentative steps leading to the emergence of that offer to dance, Brown making use of his entire body in a fascinating and enthralling manner whilst Mutso shows strength in performance which you would often expect from an athlete. It added a beauty to the specifics of the performance.
The clear abilities on show are divergently complex and equal in impact. Of course, the physicality of Brown has him using the scaffolding structure and his traversing along it as a spectacle that is fluid and impressive. The interaction between him and Mutso manages to keep our attention focussed on their interplay as much as their connection to a metaphorical and real bridge between them.
There is a beauty in the score which on screen is added to by a creative set of lighting and camerawork that shines through. Aside from the start of the performance where Brown emerges from Mutso, I also loved the way in which Mutso ran on the scaffold as well as the floor work Brown incorporated into the piece.
The effect when they came out onstage was to allow us a glimpse of what we missed. Of course, the entire experience would have been fully enhanced had it been completely live and though we got a brief glimpse, which was illuminating, it underlined how much of a shame we did not get emerged in the entire experience. It was still a delight to watch, a joy to see but an opportunity missed by not getting it live. I also left wishing that I had seen it in a more intimate space where it would have been far more immediate and challenging. The distance in T1 may not have been ideal, the film giving more distance, but it still made me want to return, discover and see more of what I had glimpsed like a child at a shop window. Next time round, I will hope that I can see that barrier brought down too.