Updated: Aug 3, 2021
Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas in collaboration with Laura Dannequin
Edward Fortes & Hannah Slimmon for Farnham Maltings
HOME Mcr online
Thu 12 Nov– Sat 14 Nov 2020
Bert and Nasi dance beautifully, enthrallingly. They make it look simple. It is the case that there appear to be no difficult steps, but the joyous naturalness of their performance must be built on strong foundations for it to work so well.
Though titled The End, the opening sections appear to be an early ‘getting to know one another’ phase: the delights of shared interests and longings, building of trust and empathy, interrupted by occasional niggles and a few minor differences of opinion, which serve to strengthen the bond. Danced simply and lightly through an eclectic succession of familiar and less familiar tunes, the music crosses four centuries: baroque to Beatles.
Gradually life sees them drift apart, retaining a true connection while ageing, developing other relationships and gradually moving towards the end caught by illness, success, and sadness.
This performance is another streamed show, performed live to an audience-free theatre space at HOME. This strange version of The End is the first performance since August 2019, an Edinburgh Fringe show selected for Summerhall, known for its high quota of quality.
It’s not quite what I expected. At the start and the opening there’s a series of slides about The End. I’d anticipated images, but these are just words. I’m still wondering whether there was some technical error. Probably not. We open with descriptions of the end of the world as we know it, an end brought about by natural change: the earth turning on its axis, planetary change, universal change, not the avertable ecological change. This is natural and thousands, millions of years away. It's still disconcerting. The show ends with Bert and Nasi moving to the end of their relationship, their life.
Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas (France/UK) have seen their work presented all over the world. They are recent recipients of the 2020 Forced Entertainment Award, aimed at artists reinventing theatre and performance in new ways and for new audiences. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the audience. That’s a huge downside of streamed-to-your-home theatre.
The central theme – the strong, undefined yet essential relationship as life enhancing, still shines through, and the dancing, initially seeming understated, in fact employs over the course of an hour a wide range of styles, steps and approaches through which the relationship retains its centrality, while odd quirky ideas can still find a place.
I’d certainly like to see Bert and Nasi dance again. I’m hoping for Edinburgh 2021, followed by some Irn-Bru Ice-cream.