A couple of years ago at Jacksons Lane I saw an act that piqued my curiosity during the Postcards Festival, a movement-based piece, a duet of sorts between Gandini juggler José Triguero and Chinese Pole artist Gemma Palomar. Then in September 2016 I saw an extended version of Cul de Sac in development at Jacksons Lane.
I remember at the time finding it an intriguing blend of humour underscored at points with a brutal undercurrent that explores the power relations and gender politics in a push-pull relationship - who will take centre stage?! - and subverts the stereotypical norms. Just before Christmas I met up with José and we had a chat about the show over a coffee, ending up in the library of the National Circus talking about the genesis of the show - how Daisy Drury there had encouraged him to work on a project with Gemma, and how Cul de Sac grew organically out of the dynamic between their personalities at play. We discussed how there is a sense of frustration in the idea of a "cul de sac", finding a dead end at the end of the path, no way to go forward. But it also refers to an erogenous zone, a desired dead end, what the French call "la petite morte", and a nod to Polanski's film of the same title. There is no narrative per se, rather a montage of images and interactions that lead us on a journey through pleasure and pain that begs the question as to whether you can have too much pleasure? Is there not a danger that in order to experience pleasure you risk losing yourself? Or that by surrendering yourself you expose your vulnerability and so are more susceptible to pain. And where are the boundaries? Having seen Smashed now (see post - click here), it strikes me as a very Pina Bauschian dialectic, and it also reminded me of an interview I had read with France's most famous dominatrix Catherine Robbe-Grillet, widow of writer Alain Robbe-Grillet, in "Vanity Fair" (click here).
José has all the warmth of a natural clown, and there are some very funny moments, with elements of slapstick. José is also a brilliant juggler. Gemma is an exceptional Chinese pole artist, clearly José's muse, and they have a way of working together that is intuitive, visceral and engaging.
Cul de Sac premiere's at Jacksons Lane on 23/24 February, and if you book by Thursday this week there is an earlybird discount available (www.jacksonslane.org.uk - click here). It will then be at Worthing Theatre 28 February (www.worthingtheatres.co.uk) and Déda Derby on 2 March 2017 (www.deda.uk.com - click here).
Performers: Gemma Palomar and José Triguero
Artistic Director: José Triguero
External eyes: John Nicholson and Pablo Meneu
Movement coach/co-choreographer: Fabian Wixe
Producer/manager: Flora Herberich