Mayfest Shorts: Idiot-Syncrasy Arnolfini

igor and moreno 1

Sometimes the form a show takes makes it difficult to put down on paper what makes it work. Igor and Moreno’s show Idiot-Syncrasy, is a show in which two men bounce up and down for an hour, sing a few songs, get us as an audience to toast with sloe gin and, well, on the face of it that’s about it. Yet from this form it gives so many readings;, about the nature of love and sex, about death, about male competitiveness and bonding. The form is only its beginning, its meaning comes from how it makes you feel which can make reviewing it a real ball ache.

Two men come onto the stage in plastic jackets and jeans. They stand stock still and begin to sing a Montenegro folk song. They harmonise well, its easy to listen to if not exactly earth shattering. But as the minutes start to tick by the impatience begins to take over. There is some shifting in seats, the women next to me gave a rather audible yawn. Then about four minutes in they slowly start to bounce, so slowly at first you barely notice. ”Oh come on you think. Do something. This is perverse. The worse kind of self indulgent performance art. I’ve got a ticket. Entertain me!” And then you realise you’ve been hypnotised by its rhythms, your senses have become attuned to every slight shift in its emphasis, that you are really focusing in a way with emails on our phones and Netflix in the background we rarely do. They’ve got you and from that point on you are putty in their palms for the rest of the performance.

The jackets and jeans are replaced by t-shirts and shorts, the bouncing becomes survival of the fittest, with each man straining at their sinews, the breathing becoming ragged, the sweat dripping off them. It is gladiatorial combat, who will drop first. And then suddenly they grip onto each other and support. And even from this straight gaze there is something sexy about it. The sexual charge becomes tender, gentle, a couple gradually seeing out their days with love and care. Its beautiful. Funny also. There is something inherently laugh out loud about male competitiveness and one-upmanship and these two have something delightfully innocent in their clown like playfulness.

What this show does so well is from its very simple form create something that makes you feel so deeply. It won a Total Theatre award last year and it is truly that, its form only the beginning of the conversation.

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