NAKED- Voila! Festival, Cockpit Theatre

Reviewer: Dominic Corr

Creators: Paige-Marie Baker-Carroll and Mx Vincent

What does it truly mean to be NAKED? And this extends beyond the superficial, the idea of being comfortable with one’s physical visage. Rather, NAKEDpresents looks beyond this and into the raw self-consciousness we exhibit with our emotional selves.

In the medium of movement, mixing myriad genres of music and vocals, performers, and artistic directors Paige-Marie Baker-Carroll and Mx Vincent investigate the celebration of the self. Set to a multitude layer of musical dimensions, some jarring in composition, the vocal work from Baker-Carroll aligns the piece well.

Emerging together, the dancers gradually understand one another in this forty-five-minute experiment of the value of embracement. At first, this is as much an individual journey as it is one as a pair. Raw, emotional, impactful and with more layers of expertise than is first observed to the untrained eye what first erupts as a splendorous creative burst of energy, gradually drips into an examination of the poignancy and exuberance of the human body.

The cabaret nature of NAKEDpresents at first shines as bright as can be, but rightly fades into the background as the show takes a more intense and powerful stance to the intimacies of what it means to embrace one another. Cabaret though is a fickle mistress, and you cannot keep her contained for long. Instead, NAKEDpresents appreciates the genre for its true form, away from the often-seen glitz, glamour, and humour and incorporates an erotic aesthetic and, in truth, a colour palette.

NAKED, for the most part, bathes itself in complementary, if simple lighting, seeking not to detract from the movement. On occasion though, where aggression and power come to fruition, crimsons streak the show and highlight intense breathing and the toll taken on the dancers. It moves the production into a primal sense as the movement become heavier.

And perhaps it is this sublime nature of intensity that also reveals the Achilles heel of the production. In a cruel twist, these powerful pieces of movement, with technical choreography entirely on-point throughout, can be so well performed in sequences that they demonstrate the limitations of other scenes. As the performance draws to a close, and the extents of the human body’s ability are at their most visceral, and this intensity shows how earlier scenes come off as filler, as less profound or even less capable

Perhaps the highest praise to offer NAKED, despite these shortfalls in composure and flow is the defiance to gender conformity. Traditional aspects of masculinity and femininity are swept aside as it instead champions the strength women hold and the often-shunned vulnerabilities of men. The physical nature of the performance is equal, with lifts and holds not resigned to the traditional roles of the male performer.

What Baker-Carrol and Vincent set out to do is merge interpretive dance and improv with the showmanship of cabaret. Together they not only demonstrate the value and necessity of fortitude in one’s relationship but the expression of separation and being naked away from the fun touches and kindred moments with another. When the humour is stripped back, it evolves into a raw display of human ability, openness, and physicality.

Runs until 22 November 2020

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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