The Pigeon and the Mouse, presented in the small, appropriately cramped surroundings of The Space Theatre in the Isle of Dogs, is billed as an apocalyptic sci-fi love story.
A couple, performed by Tony Bordonaro and Ingrid Kapteyn, collectively known as Welcome to Campfire, shelter in an abandoned church when nuclear fallout from civil war forces the city into quarantine.
The space has a makeshift quality: clothes hang from a line at the back. Pictures and cards are randomly affixed to a wall. A pile of rumpled linen under a hastily tented sheet provides a bed.
A prolonged blackout rather tests your patience, before the performance proper gets under way. When it does, though, it offers a mesmerising dance by two near naked bodies in soft, dreamy light. They stand as one. Then, in slow motion, Kapteyn’s upside-down body peels itself away from Bordonaro’s. Their duet is one of love – unhurried, erotic, passionate. Their two bodies are totally attuned to each other, offering a harmonious mix of dance and acrobatics.
Another blackout leads to a more prosaic scene where the two put on their clothes and playfully move about their cramped space, seeming almost excited by this enforced confinement.They have nicknames for each other: she’s Pigeon, he’s Mouse. And Mouse says: 'Cooped up like kids on a rainy day, we made time, made believe, and made love more than our regular lives would have ever allowed.’
Short blackouts separate scenes of their basic day-to-day existence, with disembodied voiceovers providing a context, interspersed with love-making. Music by Daniel Henri Emond (Go) & Lia Menaker (cover of The Labyrinth Song) provides a poignant soundtrack to the dance interludes.
As it progresses over an hour, this piece of dance-theatre gradually shows weariness settling in. Their love-making loses the erotic lustre of their initial encounter and hovers between pointless and desperate. Premiered in New York in 2020, prior to the Covid lockdown, The Pigeon and the Mouse shows extraordinary prescience in its depiction of the effects of prolonged confinement on the mind.
And then the order to evacuate comes and with it the prospect of separation. Will they leave together? Or will the prospect of freedom suddenly become too much for one of them? The question remains in the air.
The intimate confines of The Space Theatre mean that the growing sense of claustrophobia experienced by the characters communicates itself to the audience; and in fact, it does come across even in the livestream (Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September). However, be warned: the sound quality in the livestream is very poor, meaning that a lot of the spoken word will be lost.
The livestream is available to watch for two weeks via space.org.uk.
|What||Review: Welcome to Campfire, The Pigeon and the Mouse|
|Where||The Space, 269 Westferry Road, London, E14 3RS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Canary Wharf (underground)|
09 Sep 23 – 11 Sep 23, 19:30 Dur.: 55 mins
|Website||Click here to book|