Thick & Tight: Short & Sweet review – a life-enhancing, many-peopled show

·2 min read

Barbican Pit, London
Running the gamut from Edith Sitwell and Twiggy to Rasputin and Elaine Paige, this mixed bill from an extraordinary duo and friends is a delight


Eleanor Perry (Tight) and Daniel Hay-Gordon (Thick) have spent a decade building a unique style, which combines drag, drama, queer culture, lip-syncing, design, mime and high-quality dance. They are extraordinary, and even Perry’s absence from the stage because of Covid couldn’t stop the quality of their working relationship and the power of their imaginations shining through this mixed bill of short pieces.

All are choreographed and directed by them, though some are danced by others. The final piece reveals the duo at their absolute sophisticated best, even though Perry is appearing by video link. Cage & Paige: We Could Go On and On pairs the words and movements of the avant-garde composer John Cage with Elaine Paige, queen of the musical, in ways that are hilarious but also revealing. As Cage says: “There are two things that don’t have to mean anything; one is music and the other is laughter. Don’t have to mean anything that is, in order to give us deep pleasure.”

The entire bill, part of the London international mime festival, is propelled by similar principles. Ode to Edith is a tribute to the eccentric poet Edith Sitwell, performed by members of Corali Dance Company (on stage) and the Camberwell Incredibles (on screen), both groups that work with learning diverse artists. The dance itself, complete with wonderful net wigs and jewelled hands, is relatively simple, but it’s performed with considerable verve, and its point – that society determines who is an outsider and who accepted – is resonant.

In other numbers, Connor Scott dances as Sid Vicious in a vignette that reveals the singer’s vulnerability as much as his attitude; Harry Alexander twists and turns as Twiggy, catching her gestures despite their physical dissimilarities; Azara Meghie offers a warm-hearted tribute to the inspirational qualities of Grace Jones; and Oxana Panchenko does a bawdy impression of Rasputin. Each piece is beautifully performed and life-enhancing. Short and very sweet indeed.

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