★★★★ Anchored in Joy

Simon Ward reviews Anchor at Camden People’s Theatre

This is a joyous delight. The genesis of the piece, as described in the programme, is exactly as you would expect. They were thrown together as if by chance and invited to collaborate. And have managed to produce a brilliant collaborative work. They explore the duality of the idea of a relationship as an anchor – if it is a source of stability, is it also holding you back from fulfilling your potential?

The authenticity and integrity of the performances from Elsa Couvreur and Mehdi Duman are utterly beguiling.

Full disclosure, I am not normally a dance fan. I was, however, delighted by Elsa Couvreur’s performance in The Sensemaker and therefore jumped at the chance to see more of her work here. As with The Sensemaker, the music is varied and often non-existent. The sounds we hear are the noises of bodies coming together, breathing, sweating. The difference this time is that there are two performers, but both equally committed and energetic.

With brutal simple physicality they brilliantly render the idea that you simply can’t get past someone you are meant to be with. They render the mutual teasing and bickering as the relationship forms and coagulates. They show the to-ing and fro-ing of power and attraction.

The show is sensual and erotic from the outset, when both performers emerge in their underwear in a set strewn with their clothes. The effect is not dissipated as they get dressed again – indeed this is reminiscent of the scenes in Don’t Look Now when Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie’s lovemaking and dressing are spliced together.

One of my problems with dance is the frustration that the actors cannot talk to each other, thereby losing one of our most fundamental means of communication. This show ingeniously turns that on its head by playing a scene where the protagonists dance through the soundtrack to their first meeting. Their direct physical embodiment of their incipient mutual attraction to the backtrack of party hubbub and their relatively banal chat is masterfully done, to exquisite effect.

If there are criticisms, you could perhaps argue that there is not enough development of the theme. We could perhaps have seen more arguing, jealousy, boredom. But my overall sense was that this was a joyful exploration of the delight of two people stumbling across each other and falling inexorably in love.

There is a primal aspect to any coupling – we know this has been going on for millennia. In an hilarious climax to proceedings, this is brought home to us to the strains of Elvis and a madcap costume change

Photo credits Kenny Mathieson

This was a collaboration between Cie Divisar and Woman’s Move. Look out for further performances from them.

Categories: review

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