Review: Go Live at Lion & Unicorn Theatre

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From the haunting to the surreal, our reviewer is spellbound by Go Live, the three week long festival of dance and performance at Kentish Town’s only contemporary arts space


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“A sharply witty narrative about an astronaut who is about to take his final breath.” Jacob Hobbs: Hallo Spaceboy.

For 21 days this month, the Lion and Unicorn Theatre is home to Go Live, a unique season curated by charismatic broadsheet critic Donald Hutera.

And if, like me, you’re a dance virgin, you’ll be relieved to hear that it’s more diverse than the word suggests.

The first performance was an extract from Darren Ellis Dance: Long Walk Home. The whole version comprises four female performers spanning ages from adolescent to seventies; this segment featured twenty-something Joanna Wenger contorting her body as though she was trying to fit into life’s expectations – but never quite managing it. Haunting.

Bucolic: the Lion & Unicorn pub
Bucolic: the Lion & Unicorn pub
Next up was Ella Mesma’s EvoL, which tackled “grey rape”, a pretty tricky subject matter to convey through the medium of dance. Isolated, she moved her hand up over her breast, displaying the blurred line between sexuality and force. Eventually it reached her throat as she screamed, “yes, yes, yes.” Executed with such an intricate level of control, the echo was an undercurrent for the rest of her performance – an internal monologue of victim versus perpetrator.

Some other highlights? Renaud Wiser’s The Skin Walkers, a duet exploring the ability of the body to morph into different forms. While a strong relationship between the two prevailed, it was the only part of the evening I failed to connect with (perhaps because there was a hefty amount of floor work I missed from my seat).

And then the surreal experience that was Jacob Hobbs: Hallo Spaceboy. A sharply witty narrative about an astronaut who is about to take his final breath, it was comically interspersed with illusion-breaking commentary from the man himself. This was my personal favourite: I could have watched Hobbs’ mind-blowing concoction of singing, dance, comedy and costume changes on a loop.

Speaking of repeats, it’s definitely worth a return visit before the festival ends on September 29. In fact, I’ve already booked mine.

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The Lion & Unicorn is at 42 Gaisford Street. Seats: £15/£12/£10 Box Office: 08444 77 1000 or book online. For more info head here.

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