Touching Just


Aris Papadopoulos and Martha Pasakopoulou

We hear them first via waddling steps. Once the lights rise, they do indeed suggest jogging ducks. This wiry, dead-pan duo sports windbreakers over gym-ready garb. She’s petite, he’s muscular, and their meagre but self-sufficient universe consists of a sparkling blue fringe curtain upstage, a slanted red neon bar overhead and a diagonal catwalk of bubblewrap. Although evincing scant warmth they’re certainly well-attuned, dropping one set of repetitively patterned motions (occasionally accompanied by self-generated sounds) for another. The opening waddle segues into earlobe-pinching, head-butting slapstick, a spate of shimmying gyrations in flashing lights, and a brief attempt to suck out each other’s breath. The climax is a bout of mechanically stylised fornications aptly ending in a gluey, unemotional lip-lock. Papadopoulos and Pasakopoulou’s neat, wittily vernacular routines are too calculatedly rhythmical to constitute true play, but light-heartedness isn’t what they’re after. They’re an ace team even if the work is ultimately sketchy and I didn’t always (care to) crack their codes.

Donald Hutera

‘Hey! How’re you doing? Fancy a kiss?’ We meet, mingle with each other and fall apart. We learn new codes of interaction each time we’re faced with the Other we might care about: a new alphabet, a new language. In by far the best and the queerest duet of this year’s Spring Forward Festival, Aris Papadopoulos and Martha Pasakopoulou unfold this idea into a bright and stark adventure. On a scarcely lit stage featuring a glittery fringe and a bubble wrap walkway, the two sporty dancers merrily tease, slap, tap and scrape each others’ boundaries. They engage in a series of odd holds, shoulder locks and lifts, breaking the pace with collapses, disco solos and sexy undulations. This wannabe-naive show ends with a Jim Morrisson-fuelled long kiss – like a serious bid for an Oscar-winning happy end. Skilful and buoyant, Papadopoulos and Pasakopoulou avoid the trap of patronising masculinity and self-indulgence and are a rare joy to watch.

Evgeny Borisenko