Imagine trying to get somewhere in a hurry, when all of a sudden you get stuck behind someone who’s walking painfully slowly. You try to get round them, towards your destination, but you’re trapped – you’re not getting there before they do. That’s what it feels like watching Elena Molinaro’s In-Be-Tween. There are some good ideas here – you’re sure – and you’re trying to find them, but the performer is moving so agonisingly slowly that you’re fidgeting, frustrated and wishing she’d get a move on.
It’s worth noting that this is more performance art than a dance show. The studio is set up like a gallery, with Molinaro moving between the installations and interacting with them as the audience follow her. More often than not, her interactions involve causing herself physical pain – be that clipping clothes pegs onto her abdomen or banging her head against a wall to affix pieces of paper. There are some interesting ideas in her actions: the clothes pegs, for example, all have names written on them, so when attached to her body they seem to represent the performer’s difficult relationships with these individuals.
She is very professional as she performs, never wincing at the pain she is in or seeming self-conscious at the fact that she is naked except for her shoes, but Molinaro must need an awful lot of willpower to stay focused. It’s not exactly a riveting show – at times it verges on ridiculous. The clothes pegs might be an interesting concept, but when she’s attaching thirty-three of them, in what seems like slow motion, you’ve got to laugh or you’ll expire with the boredom. Molinaro writes in the programme that her ‘slow and repetitive actions… create a sense of temporal suspension’. They don’t. They create a desperate wish for her to get on with it.
Ultimately, this show can’t be redeemed by its high-concept ideas or the performer’s professionalism. It’s all very well creating cerebral performance art, but not if it means a dull show. Molinaro seems to assume that because her show is intellectual, it doesn’t have to be engaging.