Andreas Constantinou: Double Bill (ReDoing GENDER 1.5 and The WOMANhouse) @ Trinity Laban Review

A night of provocative, informative and erotic performance art, that tempts you in the complex world of gender, sexuality and performance. The nights consists of two performances, complimenting each other in both terms of theme, content and development of ideas. Both pieces challenge the concepts of masculinity, the first through classical sculptures of male ideals and the second, through the presentation of female performers transforming themselves into men. In a thought provoking double bill, the essence of exhibition performance is undeniable, additive and contagious to observe and comment upon.

ReDoing Gender

ReDoing GENDER 1.5 is a solo performance piece, by the creator and choreographer, Constantinou, who challenges masculinity whilst performing his own male anatomy and body. In a brutal demonstration, this performance moves between a gender confused ape, feminised frolics to a baby performing within a male body, all questioning ‘what it means to be masculine?’. ReDoing GENDER 1.5, is filled with intense imagery that displays one mans search for an identity, under the gaze of a patriarchal society. The show although often awkward, presents an addictive ingredient, to which you will not want to look away. The structured conditioning and indoctrination in the form of right and wrong, often offers the interpretation of a game show, with sound and lighting effects presenting the creation of an omnipresent judging arena. The shaping of the body, highlighted through the practice of body mechanics, provokes an anatomical and anthropological interaction, returning to a primal and animalistic quality. As the audience, you are entered into a surrealist world through the inclusion of beach SFX, where the fluidity of gender if possible, is questioned and challenged.

Throughout the performance there is heightened perception of being observed, a construct relevant to contemporary gender politics. The parameters of performance are set and remain in the construction of a taped box on the stage floor, creating an arena of action. The minimalistic set compliments the ideas being presented and emanates an essence of the body being the primary prop. Outside the box there appears to be a chair, laden with clothes in an attempt to represent a person, drawing back to the theme of being observed and creating the idea that this is the judging persona. The physicality throughout is something to behold and observe, whilst Constantinou moves through the positions of man, in an often painful demeanour questioning a level of sympathy. ReDoing GENDER 1.5 is a performance that I believe can only go on and develop. It is unique and insightful, and wholly dependant on the next performance in the double bill.

In The WOMANhouse, four powerfully athletic female performers transform themselves into men, stirring up a frenzy of fights and violence. This show, again questions masculinity but this time in the form of the female anatomy and body form, tearing up stereotypical ideas about ‘what it is to be a man’ and ‘what female bodies might do within this interaction’. This performance is self-aware, courageous, ambitious and provocative, but is successful in doing so. A line up of female bodies, weighted with beards, and moustaches, this piece spectates the construct of self and the way others perceive this. The technical elements included are innovative, a microphone used to amplify the space, body and interactions throughout. The symbolism and self recognition is fresh, whist offering an unexpected notion of celebration and release. The soundtrack featuring the juxtaposition of classical and contemporary music is natural and awakened, within an interactive play space.

This performance art piece, again denoting an exhibition awareness, is enlightening with each audience member relating differently to the content being presented. In a relatable yet diverse way, this production focusses on a subject that is relevant to all humans, identifying oneself through another’s eyes and gaze. The theme of identity construction is highlighted primarily through the presentation of body, also spoken word and song. This piece in its attempt to break an element of ‘simplemindedness’ is tender, aggressive, sexy and blurry, crossing all lines to reach its conclusion.

The double bill offers thought and demonstrations that are raw, ambitious and visually dynamic. Although, I question its accessibility and universality, whilst also being aware of its past European roots, this production is undeniably engaging and insightful. Andreas Constantinou creates an enduring double bill that questions and interrogates constructs that evidently inhibit everyday existence. The double bill is a production of thought that will challenge and interrogate you as an audience member. I leave the production disturbed by the brutality, but moreover shocked at the effectiveness of the content performed, during this evening of questioning gender. I look forward to the future development of both pieces and hope that it will find its place in London. 4/5

Review written by Meg Mattravers.

Andreas Constantinou: Double Bill-ReDoing GENDER 1.5 and The WOMANhouse was shown on Thursday 25th February at the Trinity Laban. For more information on Andreas Constantinou, visit here…

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