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Thick and Tight: Romancing the Apocalypse review by Sarah Watson

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Thick and Tight Apocalypse

Sarah Watson saw Thick and Tight: Romancing the Apocalypse at Sadlers Wells on Thursday 9 January 2020, as part of London International Mime Festival

I didn’t know anything about Derek Jarman before seeing this show. Thick (Daniel Hay-Gordon) and Tight (Eleanor Perry) performed two pieces about him that brought him back to life for me. They mixed his words with images and sounds of his home and nature as the background adding movement to complete the picture.

In Adieu, the Corali dancers, wearing red shirts, held objects that were simple but effective; paintings of flowers to suggest Jarman’s garden, red balloons, a cloud.  The choreography had an elegant style and was very touching.

There was a panel of blue with shadows moving across like the passing of time. It made me feel quite emotional.

There was a similar mood in the final piece, Gay Gardens, which was my favourite of the evening. It was powerful and moving, with flowers put around the death-bed. Daniel was Jarman and Eleanor was Marcel Proust. They did a lovely duet at the end which had happiness and sadness too. I won’t forget their words; the sense of paradise in the garden and Jarman’s house in Kent.

Before these quite intense pieces there were some more jolly ones. Pink Narcissus was the writer Barbara Cartland played by both Thick and Tight as a two-head vision in pink that made me think of Kenny Everett. They mimed to Cartland’s words about women being not as good as men. I actually agree with her on some levels! Women can be very bitchy to each other and you need to be strong to treat others as equals.

In contrast Empire, danced by Vidya Pratel, had a very modern, clean, black and white look and great lighting. It was intimate and drew you in. Good to have a woman being Winston Churchill too, she gave it a softness that contrasted with the texts about empire from all our prime ministers.

Harry Alexander was provocative and fabulous as Andy Warhol in Soup, slow moving and shy until he goes clubbing, with great music like Lou Reed and Grace Jones. I don’t think he was eating real soup.

Engel was about Marlene Dietrich. I liked Edd Arnold’s passion and dancing but the metal music was way over the top. This was a less successful piece for me, it didn’t seem to have much to say.

The evening as a whole had a feeling of silent films about it, or a fascinating with old fashioned tv, with the lip-synching, lots of black and white in the costumes and lighting, the big movements and gestures. I’m not sure how the title links to everything but it was very relatable and I would recommend it highly.

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