DANCE / Darling, simply too tired for words

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The Independent Culture
THE FOUR men and two women who comprise Adventures in Motion Pictures are working too hard. The company's touring schedule is punitive and, because it has little trouble attracting funds, it has been duty- bound to create two new works a year. Under the strong artistic direction of Matthew Bourne, AMP is still touring with its zany version of The Nutcracker, and last week presented its latest work, The Percys of Fitzrovia. Remarkably, the dancers show no sign of flagging, but their vitality merely serves to prove the body is more durable than the choreographic flame, which is flickering.

AMP has a reputation for social comedy, for being funny without being flip, light without being superficial. Fitzrovia, sub-titled 'An Arty Farce', is all the above, but lacks a certain oomph: it is a delicious milkshake that once swallowed is forgotten. The piece consists of 10 tableaux about Bohemians in London between the wars and is set to snatches of Romantic music. It is a satire on the insincerity of the arty set. Almost every art form is packed off to Pseuds' Corner: music lovers are mocked for their false euphoria (arms rise in unison with the violin pitch); book lovers are ribbed (dancers roll over each other on the floor, noses in books, too preoccupied with 'literachah' to notice); even writers with writer's block are spared no mercy as dancers throw up their arms in despair to the rhythm of a pounding piano.

Bourne shows an interest in social commentary, a welcome departure in an art form often criticised for neglecting social and political issues. In one of the tableaux, 'The Object of Beauty', a man in drag - pink frilly knickers, loose shirt and neat pink bob - moves lightly and is convincing as a woman, but what you see is not what you get. To emphasise the point, the same performer (Simon Murphy) appears in the rest of Fitzrovia with no shirt, but still in wig and knickers. It is the segment with most impact.

The second piece, The Infernal Galop, was first performed in 1989 and is revived with an atmospheric set - a smoky Parisian street with the mandatory men's urinal. It is also a series of tableaux, but set to the nasal warbling of French singers and accordion players. There are more steps here, danced with the verve AMP used to have. The work is great fun and lifted the mood of the audience, which came to be entertained but was subdued after the ethereal Fitzrovia.

Galop's homo-erotic sequences are delightfully witty, poking fun at the marginalised rather than pitying them. A Valentino in blue satin dressing-gown is alone with his fantasies - until they appear in the form of three sailors in blue, body-hugging suits. Who is more shocked? Valentino or the sailors, who enter with the feigned wide-eyed innocence of children. Later, three men appear inside the urinal, backs to the audience, surreptitiously peering at each other's parts. Two men go off together, but their coitus is interrupted by a jolly band of singers pretending not to notice what in the world the men are up to.

(Photograph omitted)

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