N A K E D by NAKEDpresents – Cockpit Theatre, London – online
N A K E D is a powerful, funny and thoroughly engaging piece of physical theatre. It is the first show from performers Luke Vincent and Paige-Marie Baker-Carroll of the NAKEDpresents queer collective, but they have been developing it since drama school. Wordless, N A K E D blends techniques often usually associated with European theatre with pure contemporary dance, to explore the nature of close relationships, in a way that feels particularly relevant to a year that many couples have spent together, for better or for worse.
Vincent and Baker-Carrol perform throughout almost naked, emerging at the start from a plastic wrap cocoon that binds them together, creating an image that is both beautiful and alarming, as they struggle to free themselves. They perform in various styles, including mime, acrobatics and dance. A stand-out scene involves Baker-Carrol bearing Vincent’s full weight as he stands on her back while she rises from lying to standing, transferring him to her shoulders. It is both nicely symbolic and properly thrilling. The soundtrack is eclectic and enjoyable, from Jacques Brel to Radiohead via the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At one point recorded interviews discuss what is feels like to share a bed with someone else.
The performance is very intimate, as both using their bodies to express the tides, nuances, conflicts and dependencies of being close to another human being. The pure expressiveness of their work is exceptional on the British stage, and it is no surprise that they have both studied and performed in Europe. They are so cool that I assumed at first they were Belgian or Polish. In fact, they are very much themselves. N A K E D have produced exactly the sort of show you would be delighted to find at the Edinburgh Festival, probably at Summerhall. Their work is original, charming and distinctive, and they two engaging, remarkable performers just starting out on what should be fascinating journey.