Review

Gary Clarke: Menage a Trois

Image credit: Gary ClarkeImage credit: Gary Clarke

I had a great time at Gary Clarke’s Menage a Trois. The works were stylish and decisive and stayed well clear of pretension. He says he prefers to work with his friends and so it is lucky that his friends happen to be such charismatic performers.

Bogofti is a solo made for and with Gavin Coward, that takes inspiration from the life and work of Francis Bacon. The images were strong and Gavin’s dancing compelling, although I wanted a little more distortion and a little less control at times. 2 Men & a Michael displays the same attention to detail as Bogofti but with humour and classic double-act timing. As a pair they go through a series of little sequences with nursery rhymes slapped out on to red thighs with military precision and soap theme tunes sung out loud and flat. I wondered what it would be like to watch it without knowing the words to the rhymes or the references. Knick Knack Paddy Whack Give a Dog a Bone sprung involuntarily into my head as soon as they started to clap. I tried to gauge the Swedish couple in front of me to see if they were enjoying it as much as I was, but the backs of their heads weren’t giving much away. I think they enjoyed it. I would have been happy with it for their performance personas alone.

I watched Horsemeat, the final piece, from in between everyone’s pointy party hats. They had been given out in the bar along with Sambuca and Love Hearts and it was hard to resist the sparkly, make-up covered lady telling us to put them on as we went back in. It reached critical mass until pretty much everyone was wearing one. It fit. Horsemeat is a solo for Gary himself and the oldest piece of the evening. The decisive, concise and highly-styled moves of the first two pieces are absent here. It is more of an “after the party when everyone has gone home” kind of thing with Gary in his full Y-fronted glory careering between self-confessional, camped-up exuberance, desperation and Abba. Oh, and he came and lay across some men in the audience who raised their eyebrows above his clinging arms. Just. Stay. Very. Still. Luckily for Gary a friendly dancer face is never hard to find at The Place and one (I shall not name you…) was pulled up for a consensual cameo.

So, in answer to Gary’s post-show question to us: yes, treating the night as a whole with bar room entertainment to match and clear ideas about how the pieces sit with each other worked. More please!


 

‘Menage a Trois’ by Gary Clarke, 8 June 2011, Robin Howard Dance Theatre

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