Lust for Life, Repeat and Fade
During July and August, the Flemish cultural centre De Brakke Grond and theatre collective De Warme Winkel hosted performances and concerts in The Peepshow Palace Festival. A corona-proof setting of individual booths built around a circular, rotating stage became the new normal for watching performances. On 29 August the Palace featured Lust for Life, Repeat and Fade by Hidde Aans-Verkade, Charles Pas and Oscar Jan Hoogland. It was part of a double bill with the Dutch-language HICCUP by Timo Tembuyser and Hélène Vrijdag.
As the audience takes its seats in the booths, Charles Pas and Hidde Aans-Verkade are already present, casually warming up. Oscar Jan Hoogland, their percussionist, is also playing around with his drumsticks and tambourine. All three have a compelling presence. In this informal atmosphere and raw scenography of a light wooden floor and bright spotlights, a loud percussion sound announces the beginning of the explosive ride ahead.
The two performers start on each side of the stage, eyeing each other assertively. As if a magnetic force separated them, they try to approach each other through some invisible resistance. Their intention is strong. Slowly but loaded with energy, the bodies eventually come closer until they run into each other, as if they were finally surrendering to a pulling force. When the moment of impact between the two bodies occurs, it’s almost a relief for the viewers who expect a crash without being able to predict its intensity. The bodies fit like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and drop to the floor effortlessly. The build-up sets a hypnotic atmosphere which is dramatically broken by a sudden change of dynamic: Aans-Verkade ends up on the floor, frozen and gazing into the distance, while Pas runs around him.
The duet explores the notion of losing oneself in the other in a concrete way: coming together through physical effort and simple tasks. Transcending the first layer that could be read as erotic, the presence of both performers is precise and stripped to some essential force that appears to be moving them. The piece’s poetics allow the mind to wander and interpret freely. Pas and Aans-Verkade connect beautifully and for me, the piece wouldn’t have needed much more than that. The end development felt abrupt and unnecessary, like solving something that could have been left open.
The double bill smoothly transitioned into the second show, HICCUP by Tembuyser and Vrijdag, a search for a ‘neutral’, or non-binary tone. Straddling the line between a lecture (in Dutch), a performance, and a concert, this duet evolved into a beautiful dialogue of singing tones.
Overall, the double bill felt balanced, proposing different entries into the search for the self. I had seen both works on different occasions, Lust for Life, Repeat and Fade at the Theaterschool and HICCUP during Welcome to our Guesthouse at Theater Rotterdam. They definitely take on a different meaning within our current context and I am looking forward to seeing them maturing.