Review: The Scotsman | Dance Column, Enter Achilles

Enter Achilles

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REVIEW ... Edinburgh Festival Theatre
by Christopher Bowen
The Scotsman | 16th Oct 1995

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Lloyd Newson likes to make dance that is about something: and with DV8, the physical theatre company he formed almost a decade ago, he's created a body of memorable dance works about — among other things — sexuality, alienation, serial killings and picking up men in public toilets. But with Enter Achilles, Newson and his cast of eight exemplary performers have created a work which will surely prove to be a touchstone for future generations of choreographers and theatre directors.

On the face of it, Newson's chosen subject — how men relate to one another — may seem pretty innocuous compared to previous angst-ridden topics. But feely-touchy new lad doesn't get much of a chance to navel-gaze in Newson's exploration of his sex. This is a warts-and-all exposé of the boorish, beer-swilling pack and the cruel, ugly games they play.

A danger with this kind of approach, of course, is that it could all be terribly alienating. But Newson is too clever for that, and like Ian MacNeil's precision engineered set, there's a surprise at every turn.

Newson mimes the gestures and mannerisms of 'real' men and finds rich seam of choreographic gold which he fashions into breathtakingly complex movement sequences. There are brilliant flashes of surreal humour — particularly when the sensitive little man in their midst (their Achilles) effects a spinning Wonder-woman-style transformation — and pathos too in the sight of the man who can make love to an inflatable doll with great tenderness, yet rejects an invitation on his answering machine from a real woman.

The issue are both complex and timely; the cast is superb; the show is unmissable.

 

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