Performers and co-creators Peter McMaster and Nick Anderson are at the late twenties crossroads, when the gaze invariably turns outwards, to take stock of life decisions and the consequences on their respective families and loved ones.
They both regard twenty seven as a highly significant age, as many famous rock stars famously never reached twenty eight, forever frozen in beauty, (in)famy and immortality. To a ramped-up soundtrack of those who did not (Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin et al) they explore similar motifs to previous piece, the all-male Wuthering Heights: of modern masculinity, identity and human fallibilty.
Scattering ashes on to the performance space, they strip out of Hallowe’en skeleton costumes and masks, and wrestle with rock star swaggerand each other. It is akin to the feted naked wrestling scene between Alan Bates and Oliver Reed in Ken Russell’s film adaptation of Women In Love, with the uneasy sensation of never being sure if McMaster and Anderson wish to exchange body blows; or body fluids. Ritual and rites of passage looms large in the designated spot, which is marked with yellow tape like a sporting event.
Passing through the audience as if crowdsurfing through a mosh pit, they vacilate between offering themselves up as sex objects (”Touch me… here, if you like”, pouts Anderson, offering his nipples to some, and arse to others) or gleefully wriggling like giggling toddlers (McMaster, by now pink, dusty and glistening as a piece of Turkish Delight).It is uncomfortable, hilarious and/or cringeworthy, depending on personal preference. A few people in the audience clearly develop a sudden fascination for the Arches’ ceiling decor.
As a piece of dance, the rigorous, butt shaking routine which plays with macho aggression to The Doors’ ‘Break On Through (To The Other Side)’ works beautifully. It is ferocious,campy and a nice homage to the Bacchanalian excess of Jim Morrison, and all of the attendant cliches. The pacing can be a little off at times, with a langorous middle section and the ad hoc play set at the world’s end, where selected audience members read out a list of Anderson’s youthful misdemeanours to his family as Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies’ plays in the background is pretty clunky. The whistling scene also adds very little to the piece.
Yet, there is self-effacing humour, a look at the insidious nature of male violence, an anarchic, nihilistic energy throughout, and moments of real tenderness which assuage any theatrical shortcomings.The confessions are touching and painfully honest, the nudity’s initial confrontational quality now diluted and ebbing away. What is left is a sort of therapy live art as catharsis. With a little bit of trimming and sharper direction, 27 could easily regroup with extra members for the inevitable twenty years reunion gig, band thinning on top, a little battle-scarred, but surviving intact and still shooting their shots.If Blur can do it…