Produced by NAKEDpresents & Swans Events, Poland / UK / Ukraine, 45mins

Voila! Europe Festival, London | November 19-22, 2020

Nick Awde | THE X REPORT

As wash of cellos and choirs ebbs and subsides, the spotlight comes up on a clingfilm chrysalis. The figures inside writhe and grunt as they break out to reveal a naked woman and a naked man who push away from each other in stunned bemusement.

Not exactly naked – there’s briefs and a bra – and yet their lack of clothing somehow unifies the couple’s similarities in physiotype, skin, height, same length hair tied back in tresses – mirror images yet different, cleaved from the same pod.

NAKED is a physical narrative from Luke Vincent and Paige-Marie Baker-Carroll that throws in smatterings of dance, cabaret and circus and a lot of thought into what’s a loose examination of the development and exploitation of gender difference that might also extrapolate to differences in general.

What transpires is a series of set pieces that explore the dynamics and evolution  of attitudes and relationships between the sexes, the changes in love and sex – and human equity. The similarly evolving movement bounces off a soundtrack that’s a collage of music, human rights and relationship snippets such as the 1948 announcement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and contemporary tales of sharing beds.

Vincent and Baker-Carroll forge a narrative through their inventiveness in unravelling ways to create earthy movement that reflects the complexities of nakedness that is also emotional and spiritual.

However, there’s a precision in that movement that’s missing. True, the ammunition of the narrative gives the duo a strong wave to ride, but they need a director to knock it together to give the show further legs. It’s less in the timing than in the uneven physicality, particularly evident in the initial and final sections where focus dips as a result. The duo call these “structured improvisations” and such an aspiration requires more in the structured department.

On a Covid note, Naked’s staging lends itself well to the camera. In this pre-recorded version there are textures and nuances evident that would be missed in the unforgiving starkness of a black box studio, while the commitment in performance leaves no doubt this is theatre.