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Out – Underbelly @ Edinburgh Fringe – Review

Pros: Great music and sound, riveting movement, a lot of vitamin C

Cons: More guidance about context before the show would have enhanced the experience.

Pros: Great music and sound, riveting movement, a lot of vitamin C Cons: More guidance about context before the show would have enhanced the experience. We filed into the space as two performers (one male, one female) danced beside each other to the kind of insistent Dancehall beat that tempts surreptitious chair-dancing. Both were dressed the same, in clothes that hid nothing: fishnet body stockings, matching trainers, tiny nipple shields. Naked equals. The atmosphere was intimate but inward-looking, devoid of sexual chemistry. By all accounts this is not what you'd 'normally' expect from a Jamaican Dancehall party. That's the…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

Silences are broken and cultural heritages reclaimed in a sensual, citrus-soaked live art exploration of shape-shifting identities.

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We filed into the space as two performers (one male, one female) danced beside each other to the kind of insistent Dancehall beat that tempts surreptitious chair-dancing. Both were dressed the same, in clothes that hid nothing: fishnet body stockings, matching trainers, tiny nipple shields. Naked equals. The atmosphere was intimate but inward-looking, devoid of sexual chemistry. By all accounts this is not what you’d ‘normally’ expect from a Jamaican Dancehall party. That’s the whole point.

OUT is billed as a reclamation, of a form and, indirectly, the culture that gave birth to it, which is known for its homophobic content. Performers Rachael Young and Dwayne Anthony both identify strongly with their Jamaican heritage, and with Dancehall, but constantly have to deal with ‘shape shifting in a bid to fit in; to be black enough, straight enough, Jamaican enough…’. Not here.

The track changed, and the music slowed. Body stockings and trainers came off, and each performer donned a pair of high heels . Their movements became more synchronised and hypnotic as they continued, their attention focused increasingly on the audience – beckoning and challenging by turns. When the music changed again, to (homophobic) Christian rhetoric, both performers faced the audience directly, and crossed themselves over and over again, in an increasingly absorbing spoof-devout ritual of defiance. By the time the music eventually ground down to silence, everyone was on tenterhooks.

Then the curveball: the huge bowl of oranges lugged on stage. What did they have to do with anything? The performers, now sans high heels and sitting across from each other in silence, began to peel them one by one. For a long time, the only noise was of paring knives peeling and then halving each orange. I was confused. They were shared out with the audience: I was none the wiser. But as the room filled with the bittersweet smell, and the comic-sensual sound of licking and sucking and cutting, I finally got it. Maybe it was a sensual bridge too far when both performers slapped their bodies all over with the remaining oranges – angrily or ecstatically, I couldn’t decide. It was only when it all ended, abruptly after the long build, that I realised I’d been enthralled. Hats off to a playful, defiant, brave and convincing piece of work.

Devised by: Rachael Young and Dwayne Anthony
Producer: Anna Smith
Lighting Design: Nao Nagai
Set and Costume Design: Naomi Kuyck-Cohen
Sound Design: Naomi Jackson
Booking Link: http://www.rachaelyoung.net/projects/out/
Booking until: Edinburgh run has ended; UK tour from September 2017

About Laura Sampson

Laura Sampson
Laura is a London-born arts evangelist and self-confessed jack-of-all-trades. She ended up studying English and Medieval studies at UCL, then worked in publishing before running off to Tokyo to eat sushi and study Noh drama. Now back in London, she's a stage design agent, storytelling promoter, singer, and radio sound engineer, among other things. She loves seeing all kinds of theatre, and she's particularly partial to anything a bit mythological.