Fantasy No. 10: The Beauty of Life is a piece which defies categories. Four dancer-performers, three men and one woman, interact through movement, words and song to convey what can be best described as a non-finished, absurd, yet meaningful ambiguity.
The central idea is one of challenging society, its rules and imposed order; one performer is pushed around in a wheelchair and unceremoniously dumped onto the floor every now and again, while the dialogue is limited to musings on difference and repeated conversations about not stepping out of line.
From beginning to end the whole experience is rather bizarre and bewildering. This is exactly what the Spanish company, Vladimir Tzekov Stage Action Laboratory, set out to achieve. They have a manifesto with about seven points which sums up, and tries to explain without categorising, exactly what kind of theatre this is. Most of them seem ambitious but do come through to some extent in the performance, including the claim to a theatre which ‘re-questions the truths that society and culture have built about itself and about the individual existence’ and insisting on being ‘not a political fanzine, but a poetical act.’
These points also make it clear that this performance is not simply meant to be entertaining. This is art, people, and they make sure you don’t forget it, not even for a minute. On the other extreme, the manifesto includes a clause against ‘falling in intellectual elitism’. Here I’m less sure about the effectiveness of the seven point plan. There may not be much intellectualising, excepting the character philosophising on the floor while two others take it in turns to grind their sexual pleasure out of his recumbent body, but there is a definite elitism here. It’s the elitism of the baffling and the ambiguous and it is this impenetrableness which prevents the audience from fully engaging with the concepts behind the piece.