As the audience is guided towards Studio 1 at International Theatre Amsterdam, the window gallery just above the space where Fernando Belfiore’s The Fountain will take place offers viewers a glimpse of where they will be transported to for the next hour. Glitters and artificial nature set the tone for this garden of Eden, where seven performers are playing with water from plastic bottles.
The audience is free to walk around, becoming part of this revolving image of human fountains. Slowly, the performers’ interaction intensifies, until they come together in a single composition. The aquatic figures grow increasingly complex and soon a ballet of choreographed spits unfolds. It makes for a satisfying show, composed of harmonious group movements alternating between spitting into each other’s faces, gently sharing fluids, passing along liquid messages and collectively composing figures. Meanwhile, whether out of fear of getting wet or thanks to clever manipulation, the audience retreats to the sides.
Progressively, the kaleidoscopic forms are replaced by splashes, sprays, rivers and tears. Transforming from nymphs to devils, the wet bodies deconstruct the harmonious constellation created so far. The deep live sounds created and performed by Isadora Tomasi, who is sadly hidden in the shadows cast by the stairs, support the dramaturgical evolution with great precision. Multicoloured water brings chaos, quickly passing from pleasant rainbow images to a frantic scene of agitated bodies and tumultuous waters.
An allegory or a critique towards the sustainability crisis seems to be pointed out in the most obvious way: there is plastic and water everywhere. Between a holy celebration and a blasphemous glorification of disgust, this ride ends with the performers individually retreating to their own cosmos, gargling on a dark liquid. Establishing a new soundtrack, these simmering souls gracefully execute a movement that could have become grotesque.
The piece is soaked in a rain of references. Greek feasts and mythological gods, waste culture, environmental crisis and social disparities all spring to mind. In this contemporary aesthetic of fluorescent colours and romantic lace, the cast carries the work with dexterity and conviction. Flirting with what could have been banal spatial compositions and trendy topics, Belfiore manages to guide his viewers well, submerging the participants in the aquatic mess. From a Hellenistic playground to a chaotic anarchic landscape, The Fountain is indeed a social metaphor of our collective hypocrisy.
Seen: July 6 at Julidans, International Theatre Amsterdam.