The Mannequin

Das Stuck’s The Mannequin is a contemporary Edda of intertwining tales: bohemians enwrapped in the fashion industry whilst isolated in the LGBTQ+ community. As their artistry grows, they question their crafts; their colleagues; their lovers and pose questions to the Mannequin but are fruitless in their expositions. As they disassemble so does the Mannequin until they are broken and bare.

A promising piece which – at the moment – has arrived to the party a tad dishabille

Burrowing into this multi-arching piece written by Sam Kindon, I was immediately taken by the sizzling, Shakespearean soliloquys and the Pinteresque beating of the lines. This was chiefly enlivened by Gabriel Thompson as Andrew, the veteran drag artiste who attempts to convince Dimas, the struggling fashion designer, to share his work. Dimas, played by Alan Hall, struck me with such enthralling dynamism, an artist on the brink of genius unable to give over his work to his adoring fans. Although Andrew attempts to persuade him it is to no avail and so his work (a dress) is stolen. Thus, giving a rapid pace to the piece as the journey of the dress introduces us to rising artists of the fashion world.

The tales of our protagonists piqued some interest but remained lacklustre as none of their stories were fully developed. What we had invested in in the beginning became lost; our maddening fashion Picasso, Dimas, dissipated along with the plot and so I found myself disinterested, instead vying for those initial conflicts to resurface and resolve. All this was canopied by the shuffling of the actors as energy felt out of sync. Storylines that showed such promise seemed to suddenly disestablish, which made the journey a constant struggle to invest in. The ‘original costumes’ and ‘multimedia’ also disappointed: costumes were mostly a collection of black pieces and the multimedia projections felt irrelevant as the format was scarcely used.

However, as the piece began to close it rose once more with the fallout in relationships as they became the sole focus; refreshing as now we were given the opportunity to have our investment in these characters pay off. The use of multimedia began to flow and tie with the live action on the stage whilst Thompson’s striking finale fixated my gaze.

The Mannequin is a promising piece which – at the moment – has arrived to the party a tad dishabille, and disappoints us with an outfit of unfinished seams. Nevertheless, the opportunity to develop this piece must and should be pursued: the sewing of the seams, the finessing of the accessories and the detail of the pattern could comprise into a wondrously aesthetic story, poised with poignancy.

Reviews by James Astley

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

The Mannequin

★★★

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Performances

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The Blurb

From the streets of Soho to the drag bars of Montmartre, the frantic lives of these artists all revolve around The Mannequin. Models, designers, lovers, and writers all desire attention and validation in lives, only to be left feeling inadequate and alone. Throughout the course of two evenings they find solace in each other and their work leading to closure. In this multimedia production, a piece of new writing with original film and costume, relationships to the queer body and relationships within the arts industry are explored in a burst of film projection and sensory immersion.

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