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by Lyndsey Winship
November 12-15, 2003
-- Brighton Dome
Thereís an amazing scene
in DV8ís "The Cost of Living" when a tall skinny man walks on
stage and sets down his ghetto blaster. Youíre thinking: lives alone,
not many friends, probably a bit repressed, sadness in his eyes. He presses
play and Cherís "Believe" pumps out of the speakers. The man
begins a routine of expressionless disco hand moves, just marking out
Then slowly you start to see his pursed lips curling at the corner, a
slight smile in his eyes, the music catching a grip on his soul. Soon
heís throwing his whole body into it, gyrating around the stage with abandon,
totally seduced and set free by the music. Itís such a simple idea but
itís so completely joyful and life-affirming that the audience whoop in
Dance lets this guy be who he wants to be. But what is it to us? Thatís
the kind of question DV8 asks in this piece which is all about image and
perfection, worth and self-worth, celebrity and conformity and other such
Whatís a dance worth? £5 for a pliť one performer suggests. With arms
thatís a tenner, add some emotion you double the fee. ďHeard you can do
some tricksĒ, one man pesters a balletic dancer. ďDo that thing with your
leg. I can pay you,Ē he insists, pegging her as a performing pony, or
perhaps a prostitute.
DV8 confronts us with some striking images. David Toole is a dancer with
no legs, gracefully spinning on his hands. He is bombarded with provocative
questions from another dancer, everything we want to know but would be
far too polite to ask Ė "Were you born like that?" "Ever
had a girlfriend?" We donít get any answers.
Another "differently sized" dancer moves his large but nimble
frame around the stage. Itís tokenistic but thatís the point. ďDV8 hired
me for my size,Ē he says, ďnow Iím worried if I lose any weight Iíll lose
my job!Ē No ironies are lost here.
A group of beauty pageant babes peel back the pretence to show the scarred
pasts behind their smiling faces. Drugs! Sex! Therapy!
A series of clever and playful scenes are danced out, all asking pointed
questions or painting a picture of mindless conformity. Couples strolling
in the park with colourful balloons, someone getting in a tangle with
a tape measure, a demented game of follow-the-leader. Plus nudity, cross
dressing and suicide.
The show completely kept my attention for 90 minutes although it wasnít
nearly as controversial or hard hitting as I expected from Lloyd Newson.
Yes, the obsession with image is unhealthy, especially prescribed images
of perfection. At the same time watching dance is all about judging images.
They know this too, so seeing as weíve paid our ticket money, DV8 gives
us what we came to see, interspersing the theatrical scenes with sleek
Itís all very entertaining and well paced, shifting effortlessly from
realism to fantasy with the help of a great set and lighting and an eclectic
musical selection. Comic, tragic and technically slick, DV8 is the original
"physical theatre" company, and theyíre still doing it better
than the rest.
Edited by Holly Messitt
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