Reviews Performance Published 29 November 2015

The Body

Barbican Pit ⋄ 19th - 29th November 2015

Poetics of the uncanny.

Diana Damian Martin
Photo: Richard Davenport.

Photo: Richard Davenport.

To sit down in darkness

To make your way in this space

That is inside your body

That is not quite consciousness

That is guided by these two unlikely hosts

That prompts questions surrounding the narratives that collide onto our bodies

The technology of our bodies

The fragility

And uncanny assembly

The aesthetics of affect and the keen sense of


The plastic smell

The hollows of the hand

The threads of hair

The digestive fluids

The small current

The spine

Put up your hands

Don’t fall in

Stay here

Touch the skin all smooth and stretching

Don’t blink

A perpetual inventory of adaptation

And of textures, surfaces, fluids, responses, synapses.

Something I’ve seen before,

But has grown into itself,




And searching.

Vignettes that gaze into the body

Whilst we think of skin and bones

Of territories of in between

Of the uncanny and of cutting through plastic skin.

The sounds of heartbeats and locked basements

And the eerie gaze of two performers

And the heartbeat of my doll

(I am growing a body inside my body,

And I thought of their heartbeats collapsing into each other

The real and the fabricated

Somewhere in processes of

Finding the human element

And growing affect

And immunities and ways of being

But not quite being fully yet).

It begins with an assembly

And the image keeps growing.

The body and representation, teased out,

The body as a metaphor

The body as container

The body as production

The body as communicator.

It’s not just the power of the performers

Tricksters of the senses

Twisting meaning

From the human to the anthropomorphic,


Internal landscapes

Zooming in on individuals hairs

On heartbeats

On small currents

On automata.

Relentlessly probing at the lines and edges

Between puppet and human

Between dissection and query

Between staging and enacting

Between recognition and ambiguity.

(The birthday party as the ultimate tease

Of boundaries and borders

Bodies and sugar levels

Heart beats and pass the parcel

And stop).

The human body is something other

A bit of a cyborg

A bit of a doll

A bit of an object

A bit of a thing.

The infrastructure of the body is something other

Caught in the fixed gaze of the doll without a spine

The toy without a heartbeat

The movement without soul

The speaking without a nervous system.

And Nigel and Jess,

They appear on the edges

They steer us through

These dioramas of internal and external landscapes

Of pop culture and flippant humour

Of sharp satire and biting questions

That distill themselves in images

Which linger,

On top of each other

Superimposed onto memories

In the mechanical sounds of dolls

And their uncanny orchestration

Of life.


Diana Damian Martin

Diana Damian Martin is a London-based performance critic, curator and theorist. She writes about theatre and performance for a range of publications including Divadlo CZ, Scenes and Teatro e Critica. She was Managing Editor of Royal Holloway's first practice based research publication and Guest Editor for postgraduate journal Platform between 2012-2015. She is co-founder of Writingshop, a long term collaborative project with three European critics examining the processes and politics of contemporary critical practice, and a member of practice-based research collective Generative Constraints. She is completing her doctoral study 'Criticism as a Political Event: theorising a practice of contemporary performance criticism' at Royal Holloway, University of London and is a Lecturer in Performance Arts at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

The Body Show Info

Directed by Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari

Cast includes Jess Latowicki and Nigel Barrett



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