The queue is long when I arrive. Judging by the excited chatter, there is a lot of buzz surrounding this show. As we take our seats, the two performers are lying down on the stage, each submerged in a pile of dead leaves. The show begins, the lights dim, and in the darkness two figures emerge as if from cocoons, groping towards each other. Suddenly the lights flash on, and our performers rush to cover their modesty. Eve finds a dress; Adam adapts with less success a handful of leaves. Quickly, however, the performers become more comfortable in their nakedness. As Eve flails about the stage, slowly shedding clothing, Adam plucks up some resolve and ditches the leaves.
The visuals are stunning; the performers’ excellent forms, with splashes of light and shadow snaking across them, was unlike anything I’d really seen before. Their sinewy bodies writhing in the darkness look like a Rodin sculpture come to life. At times the atmosphere is eerie and tense, aided by the near complete lack of music or audio, and a sparing use of lighting. Sometimes the only illumination is from a torch dangling on a rope, raining light down on the performers as it swings from side to side.
The performance is not easy to describe in words. Doré’s illustrations of Dante’s Inferno, depicting scores of naked, damned souls writhing in agony on the floor, captures the mood about as well as anything. The dancers thrash about and prostrate themselves in various positions like some sort of prolonged mating ritual. Leaves were kicked about, stomped on and rolled around in. At one point Eve produces a few apples, and the two engage in a sort of foreplay with them.
The performers end their ordeal gasping, glistening with perspiration and thinly carpeted in leaves, which by this point has been mashed into a fine pulp. I begin to reflect on what I had just seen. Would the Almighty have approved of this prelapsarian spectacle, as many of my turtleneck sporting compatriots seemed to, or would He have shared my bemusement? A little dazed, I turned to my neighbour for a second opinion. He loved the performance: “the tension, the carnality, the physicality of it, everything”.
I appreciate the message behind the show. The audience are helpfully furnished with leaflets that venture an explanation of what they are about to see. The show celebrates the human form, and resents its corruption by the porn industry. Fair enough; it’s refreshing to see naked bodies presented in this way. For all I appreciated about the message, I got little from the show itself. The lighting was well done, the dancing was good, and Adam’s lively facial acting made for some comic moments, whether intentional or otherwise. For my money, the show was a little artsy-fartsy. But what do I know? The theatre was packed, and the performers received very enthusiastic applause at the end. If performance art is your thing, you will likely take away a lot more from this than myself. If you come expecting Strictly Come Dancing, you may be disappointed.
An Eve and an Adam, Dance Base, 20:30 (1hr), Aug 10-21.
Image: provided by production company.