Short & Sweet – The Studio

Created by Eleanor Perry & Daniel Hay-Gordon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Cobbling together as varied and enriched a style as they can muster, duo Eleanor Perry (Tight) and Daniel Hay-Gordon (Thick) combine an arrangement of queer culture, design, mime, choreography and heaping of dramatic inspiration into this mixed arrangement of short pieces.

Seven. To be exact. Though unfortunately due to self-isolating with Covid, Short & Sweet finds itself without an appearance from Twiggy (Harry Alexander), but this doesn’t halt the momentum of the production. With video feeds, lighting spectacular from designers im Spooner, Pam Tait, Claire Ashley and Darren Evans and diverse nature of performance, this septet of curiosities will boggle, touch and inspire – all starting with a newly crafted nuance piece commissioned by Noh Reimagined to demonstrate an experience of Japanese Noh theatre.

Though choreographed and directed by the duo, several acts are performed through other creatives. Where the pair unleash their spectacle, their sophistication outshines any intuitive readings, the synchronisation & synergy a masterstroke of stage wonderment. Pairing and entwining the words and thoughts of avant-garde composer John Cage, with the queen of musicality herself Elaine Page, Cage & Paige builds on its humorous foundations before unearthing a more revealing state of play. The richness and defiant snobbery cannot permeate the two things in life which require no meaning or explanation; laugh and music.

Both of which Short & Sweet dishes in droves – particularly on the laughter. Erupting in unexpectant (quite often the best) places, nowhere quite as effective as the gaudy and lewd unveiling of the Russian mystic and confidant Rasputin. From the Znamenny chants to the pop-culture icon Boney M., the musical evolution of mythos to man, to the borderline idol, Oxana Panchenko does the dirty on the Mad Monk, tightly choreographed ‘erector’ of praise.

Infusing a much-required Punk element, counterbalancing the Joie de Vivre of the inspirational Grace Jones and the filmed rendition of Camberwell Incredibles tribute to poet & critic Edith Sitwell, Conor Scotti’s vignette of Sid Vicious unearths a vulnerability, mortality of the man gone too soon, but one which matches his explosive attitude. The entire routine, without an ounce or word towards politics or party, utterly lambasts and boils the blood, sparking reminiscence of generations who would be lining the streets in the present climate – rather than turning to Twitter.

Elements of choreography differ through the production; the seven pieces deservedly differentiate style and method – but come at the cost of the smorgasbord element of tastebuds. Audiences will undoubtedly marvel at the duo’s movement designs, and explorations into the lives of many, but some may fail to live up to juggernauts of representative brilliance.

Short, exceptionally sweet in unconventional and marvellous ways, Thick & Tight’s conceptual conjuring of collaboration lifts The Studio space in ways not often observed. Crossing genres, shattering boundaries and skirting around in the rubble – Short & Sweet is performed with a considerable dynamism and verve, highlighting the muted point that society has a determining fact in who is accepted and who is an ‘other’ is this mad, mad, utterly incoherent world. 

For more information about Short & Sweet, and the Manipulate Festival in general – please visit their website here.

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