DANCE Javier de Frutos Purcell Room, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Styne and Sondheim's Gypsy is a curiously paradoxical show. Although it tells the life story of a stripper, it does so without getting its kit off. It is, therefore, a pleasing conceit that Javier de Frutos should have staged his latest solo, Transatlantic, to songs from Gypsy and perform the entire thing in the raw. Of course Gypsy isn't about nudity at all, it's about motherhood and ambition, and De Frutos's show isn't about nudity either. It's an account of the time he spent in the US and charts his emotional and artistic experiences there. It's only partially successful. As always, he delivers this travelogue without clothes, but his nudity is for the most part incidental - there is always something matter of fact about de Frutos's bare body.

Not only does De Frutos save a fortune on costume designs, the set is pretty minimal, too, consisting of a door frame through which he makes his entrances, and a suspended window frame through which he strikes a variety of poses in warm yellow light, like a mad Rembrandt. The opening sequences feature him grimacing histrionically and pacing out the circles drawn on the floor with the strange gait of a crippled hen. By the time we hit Ethel Merman's number "Some People", De Frutos's dance pedigree is to the fore in a compelling and delicious solo in which his arms lick around his body like tongues of flame. However, we swing from the sublime to the ridiculous when he turns his back to the audience, bends over and waggles his bum to one of Baby June's little songs, suggesting that the inane lyrics are coming from his spotlit rear end. Later, when the sound- track features a tap routine, he bounces repeatedly, his willy going like the clappers. I must say I found it very, very hard to get excited about all this, but thankfully so did he.

Louise Levene