The Pigeon & the Mouse – The Space, London

Reviewer: Scott Matthewman

Writers and Directors: Tony Bordonaro and Ingrid Kapteyn

In a country riven by civil war and nuclear fallout, two people – who have nicknamed themselves Pigeon and Mouse – take shelter for a prolonged period of enforced self-isolation. Unable to go outside, their relationship evolves from passionate sex to something much deeper.

Devised and first performed before the pandemic made the idea of staying indoors for months, if not years at a time, a lot more real than fantastic, Tony Bordonaro and Ingrid Kapteyn’s dance-based piece has itself evolved through the Covid years, to the point where any coincidence about the setting has long since evaporated.

What remains is the familiar, if not the universal. The scenario initially offers a sense of novelty – when free of external responsibilities and timescales, Pigeon and Mouse revel in each others’ bodies. Wearing nothing but flesh-coloured underwear, Bordonaro and Kapteyn perform with a unity of purpose and movement, expressing the duo’s love as a force that keeps them in sync with one another.

The dance routines are separated by more playful moments – creating pillow forts, turning sheets into a tent or a ghost. But as the war wages on outside their hiding place, signified by barely intelligible bursts of radio babble, tensions and external factors begin to surface. In one especially moving sequence, Bordonaro and Kapteyn perform a routine in which Pigeon and Mouse must traverse space while taking turns to use their sole breathing mask.

Mostly, though, the pair focuses on the characters’ internal, indoor conflicts. With the war changing and a threatened prospect of enforced separation, the duo’s dances become more individualised, pushing against one another where once they danced together. They share short stories about a pigeon and a mouse who try and find ways to stay together, despite being creatures of the land and air.

Their stories end differently each time, but the pair never stop trying. And so, when the dancers return to the near-naked forms in which they started the piece, there is a sense of a couple strengthened and empowered by adversity; no longer performing in the joyous union of their first throes of passion, their sexual dance is more confident, deeper and more fulfilling.

During the pandemic, we may not have had a pigeon or a mouse to go through the adversities. Some of us lost people where this fictional pair instead found strengthened bonds. But taken away from the parallels with Covid-19, and treating instead its grungy apocalypse as a much more metaphorical situation, its story of a love deepened by adversity resonates all the more.

Reviewed on 10 September 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

Apocalyptic resonance

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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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