Performance of Nicole Beutler’s Metamorphosis. Photo © Anja Beutler

REVIEW

Nicole Beutler Projects: 8: Metamorphoses

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Nicole Beutler: Metamorphosis. Photo © Anja Beutler
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Jordi Ribot Thunnissen
What’s the measure of a man? This performance questions what we are even measuring when we say ‘man’

We enter the stage from the side. Musician Frank Rosaly welcomes us with a hypnotic improvisation on his drumset and we take our places on the stands behind him, facing the auditorium but separated from it by a stretched-out cloth covering the whole proscenium. Seven performers – male, dressed in grey suits and ties – join Rosaly and form a vertical line in front of us. As in a synchronised-swimming routine they fall flat on their hands in a tight canon, do a push-up and circle around to start the next collective move.

Choreographer Nicole Beutler sets out to explore the concept of ‘manhood’ and engage in a journey of transformation. The eight performers draw well-timed patterns in space, lie on the floor connected to one another emulating the prints of MC Escher, then gather to sing Purcell’s challenging aria ‘The Cold Song’ while striking several manly poses. Though their quest is slightly ironic, they all step out of their comfort zone, and the vulnerability this entails is endearing.

Master lighting designer Minna Tiikkainen – also known for her outstanding work with Jefta van Dinther – makes clever use of our position on stage, at times illuminating it from such a height that we feel as if we are in the depths of a cave, the show a shared journey to find a way out.

At last, the cloth rises to reveal an equally evocative landscape. The red chairs are covered in mist and in the back an orange glow-light plays a rising sun. Right in front of it, a fragile tree celebrates a new beginning. Stripped to their underwear, the eight men leave the stage to change into surreal costumes – but the staggered timing of this rebirth partially kills the magic. When they finally descend into the auditorium, the memory of what we have been working on for the last hour doesn’t travel with them. A shame, really, for I’d gladly have gone with them until the end.

The bottom line: A smart take on manhood and the inevitability of change
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Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Reviewed 18 May 2019.
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Concept, direction, choreography: Nicole Beutler / Music: Gary Shepherd, Henry Purcell / Performance, co-creation: Felix Schellekens, Dominic Kraemer, Arnout Lems, Sebastian Pickering Pedersen, Rob Polmann, Timo Tembuyser, Christian Guerematchi / Percussion: Frank Rosaly / Costume: Jessica Helbach / Lighting design: Minna Tiikkainen / Scenography: Julian Maiwald / Dramaturgy: Igor Dobricic / Artistic assistance: Justa ter Haar / Dramaturgic advice: Fabienne Vegt / Repetitor, tour management: João Dinis Pinho / Light technique: Julian Maiwald, Prem Scholte Albers, Desirée van Gelderen / Audio technique: Valentijn Berkhout / Second cast: Tijmen Teunissen, João Dinis Pinho / Production assistance: Marijn Maurits / Campaign: Len Rooth, studio l&rooth / Campaign photography: Aisha Zeijpveld / Teasers and trailers: Bas de Brouwer / Pre publicity image: ‘God’s House’ Matthias Haker /
Acquisition & tour planning: Theaterzaken Via Rudolphi / Production: Nicole Beutler Projects / Coproduction: Operadagen Rotterdam, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam / With the support of: Ammodo, Fonds 21, Fonds Podiumkunsten, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst

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