Resolution 2019: Vendetta Vain/Elliot Minogue-Stone/Ben & Fred

Ben and Fred - The Juggling of Science. Photo by Chris Sly

A trapeze hangs over an austere set, a series of statements flashing up on the back wall telling us that this performance will not be “cruelty-free”. A nude figure out of burlesque striptease appears, hiding her face with feathers, before revealing herself as wearing a hemp sack over her head. She pointedly adorns the sack with lipstick and false eyelashes. Vendetta Vain’s trapeze-work then plays out against projections of misogynistic commentary: a forceful image of protest, though I would have liked to see the critique involved more intimately in the aerial movement, which at times becomes a platform for attitudes of defiance. In its closing moments, the effect Vain creates of falling in mid-air – of a body falling through its own joints and hinges – is striking and could have meant more.

Elliott Minogue-Stones’ Sighs, cries and lies stages an eccentric duet between two young female performers, one of whom distributes Valentine’s style love-tokens across the stage. What follows are restless, intermittently inspired dance- scenes, disinclined to resolve into any one tone. The performers begin like young girls imitating pop-videos, only to become disoriented, glitchy, fazed. Later, one repeatedly totters to the ground while the other, looking creatural, not fully born, unfurls across the floor as though being drawn by invisible threads. At such moments the show’s choreography feels like it is doing more than just indicating ideas about human development and socialisation: it’s undergoing and bearing them. Wonderful!

A world away in tone and intent, The Juggling of Science is framed as a public service broadcast, with performers in lab- coats using juggling to demonstrate some aspects of chemistry and physics, balls corresponding to atomic particles. Their evident skill at the form, with its intricate patterns and entropic falls into disarray, made me wish for a show in which they illustrated these fascinating things with less literalness, to match their lightness of touch.

Reviewed on 29th of January by Bryn Davies at The Place within Resolution Festival