As with most dance works part of Mimefest, it’s best not to ask too many plot-related questions, just let the experience take you on a cryptic journey, or in this case, into a vibrating world of dysfunction.
So the story begins: a sexy woman in a too-hot-to-handle red dress and red heels lives a mundane life with her partner – occasionally indulging in unbridled passion. The duo suddenly transition to a trio when her missing-in-action husband returns home from war. While looking a bit out of her league, he nevertheless still appeals to his wife, and before you know it, they are making out with desperate gropes and face gobbling. As the threesome settle into a strangely everyday routine, further shuffling takes place, and naturally, interesting configurations play out.
If the story isn’t eccentric enough, their jerky movement patterns replicate a tremulous tumble dryer. Subtle rhythmic, twitching movements turn into explosive, gyrating sequences hinting at the characters’ inner demons frantic to come out. French director Tomeo Verges describes the dancers as ‘being virtual prisoners stuck in real time.’ The droning clock that ticks with growing fervour adds to the fidgeting tension, as does the door in the bare-bones make-shift house that haphazardly swings at its hinges.
This is one of those shows where you really must be there to appreciate its avant-garde style. Verges’ Man Drake Dance Company is known for its focus on the surreal, and how that interplays with real world events, and this is certainly an arresting example whose 55 minutes are worth a viewing (even if just to check out Sandrine Maisonneuve’s beguiling red dress).
Man Drake Anatomia Publica is at Barbican’s Pit Theatre until Saturday 25 January. Shows start at 7.45pm and tickets are £16. Additional shows part of The London International Mime Festival run until February 1.