A slow burn performance, which builds to a surprisingly hard hitting climax, using a dance and self-aware comedy.
A confident and distinctly masculine performance, which will lull you in with a comedic but slow start, and then hit you hard with a gorgeous and thoughtful production.
Beauty of the Beast explores the complexities of male relationships; friendships, pack dynamics and teamwork, looking at the camaraderie, vulnerability and hostility produced by these interactions – an unlikely inspiration for a dance piece but made all the more interesting because of it.
We are introduced to a gang of friends who induct a new member into their pack after checking out the outsider thoroughly beforehand of course. Following the opening – which is simultaneously beautiful and an extended joke – there is a constant sense of tension throughout the entire production; a burning feeling that the characters are on the verge of exploding into violence or aggressive cheering as the show explores the power and team dynamics within the troupe.
It begins slowly with a collection of short, darkly comedic sketches, interspersed with dance. The sketches establish the characters of the guys and the process of becoming a member of a group, you expect it to be a violent initiation, but are blindsided by dramatic poetry reading, fart jokes and lots of pelvic thrusting. Eventually the show’s energy and interest picks up, and the piece takes-off with more focus on dance. The choreography was excellent and versatile, allowing different segments inspired by such things as a night on the town with friends, pack dynamics, a man and his dog and the evolution of man. The piece doesn’t shy away from the darker moments, such as the breakdown of the leader. Arguments between close friends result in some really hard-hitting moments. During the group pieces they utilise fantastic lifts to look at support and strength in the relationships. The dances are hard to tear your eyes away from, technically complex choreography yet easily accessible for people unfamiliar with modern dance, you always knew what was going on and was being said. A series of solos were also similarly strong performances, the finale, illustrating how our friends help put us back together when we break, made me cry.
The design of the show is excellent, the costumes are quietly provocative, poking fun at stereotypes. The original music is lovely and suits the varied themes of the dances and the added music brings a new level to the show, without feeling out of place. This is a confident and distinctly masculine performance, which will lull you in with a comedic but slow start, and then hit you hard with a gorgeous and thoughtful production.