MZdP Gofp at The Place, London
Gopf is full of beautiful moments. It comes from that place in the imagination where the absolutely ridiculous oscillates with the perfectly logical. When Gregor Metzer, a small square box on his head, begins blindly to build a tower using the other small square boxes in the space, it makes total sense for his own head to become one of the layers. As he picks up the tower with his head sandwiched in its middle, we laugh with the knowledge that sometimes we too make ourselves ridiculous while we think we are identifying and computing a situation with perfect logic.
If Gopf is on the edge of two extremes, their use of media, set and props and their choreography perfectly animates this idea. The set is a simple series of hinged wooden doors with empty, cut-out doorways and windows, and their props are predominately a series of three-sided, differently sized wooden boxes. The interaction of partitions, boxes and bodies becomes a kind of kaleidoscoping jigsaw, as the performers constantly find aew ways to relate to, manipulate and explore their environment. With such a stark angular set, images of joints, intersections, edges, corners and flat surfaces become thematic, and pull us always back to that edgy line of non/sense and dis/order that MZdP tread. So, we find moments as the piece begins when the human joint purposefully meets the manufactured joint, with the performers’ elbows marking out the corners of a box, or their fingers literally pinpointing the very corner of the flat linoleum dance floor. We find moments when the characters can only exist in relation to this angular environment, for example as Zimmerman hangs upside down suspended only by a flexed ankle hooked over the partition edge or as he tightrope walks along the very top edge of the wooden doorway. The excitement and intensity of these moments bristles when at the end of the piece two of the three partitions have fallen dramatically from their upright positions to lie horizontal and inanimate at floor level, somehow sending us back from the self-contained imaginative world we have been witnessing.
MZdP is a troupe of three artists from very different backgrounds. Gregor Metzer is an ex-Bejart ballet dancer, Martin Zimmerman has a history of circus performance and clowning, and Dimitri de Perrot is a musician, composer and club dj. Gopf is their first piece, and is an interesting exercise in exchange and collaboration. Each individual has brought a style and an expertise that certainly shines. Zimmerman’s classic clown routine with a suit jacket; de Perrot’s climactic creation of a seedy, urban, criminal soundscape in his mixing of beats, recorded sound and live noise; and Metzer’s parody of a Swan Lake cygnet that is crossed somewhere between Adam Cooper and Frank Spencer – their individual performances are electric and beautiful. Equally, there are moments of easy and confident exchange, for example the contact dance work between Zimmerman and Metzer which is smooth, lyrical and inventive. Sometimes, however, there seems to be a certain distance between disciplines here. Confident interplay between performers, set and props is still building, and its infancy is exacerbated both by the literal distance between the two physical performers on the ground and the dj high on a platform behind them and also by the lack of narrative trajectory which risks making the piece itself fragmentary. Nevertheless, the challenge of working in a complex cross-disciplinary environment like this is definitely to be commended and the confidence and grace of this troupe will certainly expand as they gain more experience of each others’ strengths. I look forward to seeing them again in the future.