DanceLondonReviewVAULT Festival

Drop Dead Gorgeous – VAULT Festival, London

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Creators: Same Same

The VAULT Festival is ending its third week, and so far it’s been full of surprises. Drop Dead Gorgeous playing for only two performances is a surprise too, but perhaps not in a good way. Fusing dance and live art, this 45-minute show tests the stamina of audience and performers alike.

There’s no doubting that the set looks gorgeous. A table full of fruit is lit from above, and the apples, bananas, watermelon slices, pears, strawberries and lemon wedges glisten in the Cavern. Underneath the linen tablecloth hide the four performers waiting for the audience to take their places around the stage.

As the lights dim, the four women, all in pretty dresses, dance around the table. And for the first half of this show that is all they do, repeating the steps as the music is repeated on a loop. But Pina Basuch this is not, and the audience begins to feel unsure of its response.

Slowly – too slowly – a narrative begins to appear as the women take turns to dive under the table to devour a grape or a strawberry. But as soon as they reappear they re-join the dance, sometimes now trying to catch the eyes of audience members who duly look away.

When the chaos eventually comes, it’s still hard to fathom the message of this piece. Is it tackling bulimia and binge eating? Is it tackling issues around body image? The press release suggests that it’s all of these things as well as society’s surveillance of the relationship between women and food. But oftentimes Drop Dead Gorgeous is just silly. And as the fruit gets smashed on the floor, it seems a criminal waste of food too.

Theatrical experimentation should be encouraged and even though this show by the Same Same collective doesn’t really work, they are still pushing boundaries to what can be shown at the VAULT Festival. And without words this show can reach everyone, likewise the smell of crushed fruit. It may be a sensory experience but the message has got lost behind the aesthetics.

Reviewed on 15 February 2020

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